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How to alleviate leadership loneliness by Mark Deterding


Leadership can be lonely and demanding, especially now. The higher your position of leadership, the lonelier and stressed you may feel.

I have heard leaders say things like—“It is lonely at the top” or  “I have no one to talk to” or “People don’t understand the pressure I am under” or “People don’t really care how I feel.” All of these things are real feelings and can certainly be true for leaders.

I feel loneliness and stress is a choice for leaders, and if you want to be an effective servant leader you need to make the choice to combat these issues.

I have found the following to be effective ways to alleviate loneliness and stress when in leadership positions.

1. Draw upon the strength and promises of God

The Lord promises to always be at our side. 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. ~2 Corinthians 1:3-4

2. Participate in a peer group

I participated in a group of peers for more than 15 years. We met religiously on a monthly basis in an environment where we could talk about both professional and personal challenges in a confidential setting. I gained a lot of insight, comfort and peace over the years from this group.

3. Utilize a coach/mentor

I have found a personal coach to be absolutely imperative for me to accelerate my development and be a sounding board for issues I am facing. A coach is a neutral party who has your best interests in mind and will not leave your side.

4. Participate in a leadership roundtable

Leaders who participate with others in a developmental environment learn from each other and it provides realization that they are not alone in their challenges.

5. Foster an “inside truth-teller relationship” with someone in your organization

It was always important for me to have someone on my leadership team who would be by my side during tough decisions and would also expose my shortcomings without fear.

6. Daily habit of prayer and time reading and studying scripture

When I fall out of this habit it seems I definitely feel more lonely and stressed.

To be an effective servant leader you need to be at your best as often as possible. Your focus needs to be on the needs of your team/ family/ people within your sphere of influence. 

It’s important not to allow feelings of loneliness or stress get you down.

What are you doing to be the most effective you can be in this area?

The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.  ~Psalm 37:23-24 Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” ~Psalm 16:1-2
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