Do you over lose sleep over a problem client or a situation at the agency? When this happens, who do you talk to for advice or input? When you’re the one in charge, whether it’s for a team or an entire organization, you may have limited people you can really share or vent those problems with. And you probably understand how “it can be lonely at the top” at times. What can you do to combat these feelings…and potentially become an even stronger leader?
As a leadership coach in the advertising industry, I’ve talked with many of my clients about how life changes when you move up the ranks into managerial or leadership positions. When you get promoted, you often have to leave behind some of the fun aspects of agency life. For example, regular lunches out with the gang or drinks after work. You realize that you have a different role now and a little separation is needed from the people who report into you. It doesn’t mean you won’t have fun, but it will be in different ways. And if you’re a seasoned leader, you probably have experienced this in one way, shape or form already.
Many of my more senior coaching clients use our time together as an opportunity to have an objective sounding board to talk about issues or challenges they are facing. They engage with people all day long but often don’t have anyone to talk to about their own issues.
I started to research the idea of leaders feeling lonely at the top and there is a lot written on this topic. Here’s one example.
In 2016, five years after taking over as CEO at Apple, Tim Cook gave an interview to the Washington Post. In this interview, he acknowledged that his job can be “lonely”. After saying this, he quickly stated that he wasn’t looking for sympathy. “CEO’s don’t need any sympathy”.
He also said in this same interview: “But I think it’s incumbent on a CEO to not just listen to points of view but to actually solicit them. Because I think, if not, you quickly become insular. And you’re sort of living in the echo chamber.” When asked who he talks to or asks for advice, he stated: “Whoever I think can help me. When I was going through [the question of] what should we do on returning cash to shareholders, I thought who could really give us great advice here? Who wouldn’t have a bias? So I called up Warren Buffett.”
Most agency leaders don’t have the option of just dialing Warren Buffet up for counsel. But it’s healthy to have a circle of people who you can reach out to when you want input or just want to talk out your thoughts versus letting them swirl around inside your brain and potentially spin out of control.
Reflecting back on my years as a leader in the agency business, I regularly sought out input from past bosses, friends who I respected, and my hubby to name a few of my “advisors”. I also worked with a leadership coach. I found the best solutions often came when I had a good listener with whom I could talk through my thoughts. And yes, some smart insightful input from my coach was also really helpful. Who’s in your advisor circle?
As a leadership coach, I play this role for many of my clients and I believe it’s one they really value. It can be lonely at the top. Having someone who knows your business, but isn’t sitting down the hall from you, and/or reporting to you can be a really great option to help you work through challenges or issues.
If you’d like to learn more about how I work with agency leaders and aspiring leaders, please give me a call or send me an email. I’d love to set up a complimentary call to discuss how coaching could work for you. And please check out my website: www.bloommentoring.com. I’d really like to hear from you.