Loneliness in Leadership

Lonely Leadership - 1In February of 2012, Harvard Business Review featured a story acknowledging that it is lonely being the CEO. The article noted that it’s isolating at the top.  Now, if you are at all like me it is a little hard to feel sorry for CEOs on a regular basis.  What with their power, prestige, influence, and wealth — the common man’s perception is that they have it all. They must be the happiest people on the planet.

All those trappings of success notwithstanding, business leaders face some genuine troubles, not least of which is loneliness.

The author of that article cited survey findings from the CEO Snapshot Survey that “half of CEOs report experiencing feelings of loneliness in their role.  And 61 percent believe that it hinders their performance. This was particularly acute with first-time CEOs and young leaders.

Lonely Leadership - 2Maybe you are also like me in that you don’t really care if billionaires like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos aren’t reaching the pinnacle of Maslow’s hierarchy!

So why am I writing about this?

I would suggest that any leader’s isolation and feelings of loneliness have negative implications on their personal performance, and perhaps more importantly, on how they interact with others. Because it is not just big corporate CEOs who experience this kind of loneliness.   It is team leaders, entrepreneurs, pastors, and community leaders also. And this impacts the bottom-line for organizations.

This loneliness springs from a feeling that they have no one “at their level” to talk to.  They have no “peers” in their view.  They have no one to confide in.  They have no one to bounce ideas off of and no one to turn to for advice.  They also have no one holding them accountable for their actions and deeds.  This isn’t good for decision-making, culture, performance, or the long-term health of the organization. Continue reading “Loneliness in Leadership”

Coming Attractions: Leadership Language

CA - Language - 1As a leader, am I hanging on to the past or am I grabbing on to the future?

This is an important question to consider because it speaks to our nature, to our ability to change, and to our willingness to adapt in order to become an effective leader. It also speaks to the everchanging landscape of language when it comes to leadership.

In the coming days I will be taking a look at leadership and the language of leadership. Some will call this language “buzzwords” and they would be correct. And although I think that there is more to leadership than language, language is vital as it is the most common medium of communication. And it is the shared language of the communicator and the “communicate-ee” that facilitates the transmission, reception and the all important feedback loop.

CA - Language - 2Are there leadership terms that are standing the test of time? If so, what are they? Are there leadership words that have faded with the whims of pop culture? Continue reading “Coming Attractions: Leadership Language”

Sacrificial Leadership

Sacrificial Leadership - 1Real leadership often involves sacrifice. And it is the sacrifices of those that have lead the way and who have forged a path to freedom and liberty that we remember today. Now is also a time to remember those who today stand a watch that allows me to grill hamburgers in my back yard today and then lay my head on my pillow tonight in safety and security.

One of the fallacies that exist today is that the higher one goes in leadership within an organization the more freedom they will have to do what they want. Nothing can be farther from the truth. In fact it is quite the opposite. The higher one rises the less personal freedoms you have and the greater your responsibility is to those who you lead and serve.

Sacrificial Leadership - 2Rodney Mills captured the essence of sacrificial leadership when he wrote on the subject of Being a Servant Leader – A Theme last September. Out of the 8 points he made, the very first one on the list was that being a servant leader requires sacrifice. That is counter culture for many of us. It is counter to human nature that you would run into a burning building while others are running from it. Nevertheless there are brave men and women who do that every day. So, developing a spirit of self-sacrifice is possible. It just isn’t intuitive. Continue reading “Sacrificial Leadership”

The Rt. Hon. Sir Leander Starr Jameson

LS Jameson - 1My guess is that many of you may have no idea who Leander Starr Jameson is or was.  And, to be honest, I did not know much about him until recently.  He was born on the 9th of February in 1853 and he died on the 26th of November in 1917.  He was a British colonial politician and was best known for his involvement in what became known as the Jameson Raid. 

The Jameson Raid was a botched raid on the Transvaal Republic carried out by Leander Starr Jameson and his Company mercenaries and policemen over the New Year weekend of 1895–96. It was intended to trigger an uprising by the primarily British expatriate workers in what is present day South Africa, but it failed to do so. These expat workers were called the Johannesburg conspirators. They were expected to recruit an army and prepare for an insurrection. The raid was failed and no uprising took place.

All of this is backstory and meant to impress you with my ability to Google things faster than a speeding bullet.  It is also to set the background for a man who, despite a resounding failure, seems to have inspired a degree of devotion from his contemporaries. Elizabeth Longford writes of him, “Whatever one felt about him or his projects when he was not there, one could not help falling for the man in his presence”. 

LS Jameson - 3Longford also notes that Rudyard Kipling wrote the poem “If—“ with Leander Starr Jameson in mind as an inspiration for the characteristics by which he recommended young people to live.  This is notably so for Kipling’s son, to whom the poem is addressed in the last lines.  Direct evidence that the poem “If—“ was written about Jameson is available also in Rudyard Kipling’s autobiography in which Kipling writes that “If—“ was “drawn from Jameson’s character.”  Kipling indicates that it was written in celebration of Leander Starr Jameson’s personal qualities at overcoming the difficulties of the Raid, for which he largely took the blame, although Joseph Chamberlain, British Colonial Secretary of the day, was, according to some historians, implicated in the events of the raid.

LS Jameson - 2So, what characteristics did Kipling have in mind?  Continue reading “The Rt. Hon. Sir Leander Starr Jameson”