The Loneliness Of Leadership

Loneliness is a condition from which all of us flees. We don’t want it. Yet, the hard truth of leadership is that loneliness is a too-frequent companion of every leader.

We know that to be a leader is, at times, to accept the need for unpopularity. You as the leader make decisions, take actions, and choose options that are not popular. You do it for the overall good of your team or cause or followers.

Unpopularity is the front edge of loneliness. As these decisions, actions, and options mount up and as time flows by, unpopularity grows. Finally, it produces loneliness. The leader finds himself or herself standing apart, alone.

When you’re alone there are only two things that remain with you. I’ll rephrase: two at most. One of them is your faith, if you are spiritually and faithfully inclinded. I don’t have any particular faith in mind when I say this. I’ll only say that your faith will be tested in loneliness. Part of that test will be whether it answers your deepest needs in these difficult stretches of Your River.

The other thing you’ll have are your thoughts. They’ll be with you. It’s likely that the majority of your thoughts, sooner or later, will slowly begin to tilt toward the past. Your past will increasingly emerge in your consciousness. You think of what’s happened, the right and the wrong, the key points and the sticking points of time already spent. Your past will steadily occupy more and more of your thoughts when you’re lonely.

A leader should prepare for loneliness.