Being a leader can feel lonely at times, like the weight of the world is on our shoulders. I have felt this way at times, especially when dealing with critical situations that do not readily present an obvious win-win solution, and the stakes seem very high.
In today’s fast-changing environment with much uncertainty, critical situations are presenting themselves more frequently, and leaders may feel more burdened than ever. If you are noticing a change in how you feel about your leadership work due to an increase in handling difficult situations, do not keep your feelings to yourself. It really helps to share them with other leaders who can listen, support and guide you through this period.
When I was a new CEO, one of the best things I did was join a Leadership Forum with a worldwide leadership organization. My Forum was made up of eight other C-level leaders. I found this group very helpful in acting as a sounding and advisory board. The Forum reinforced to me that I was on the right track and to trust my instincts. It also allowed me to broaden my knowledge and perspective of business outside my own career experience as we took the opportunity to dive deep into each operating business. I still count on this network of friends and colleagues today.
In my experience, once you recognize your feelings and especially when it feels more challenging than normal, reach out to your network — your inner circle — and run the situation by them. The more often you reach out, the easier it will become, and you will find this support invaluable. You can return the favor as well and be there for each other when they need to talk something through. Knowing that other leaders are experiencing or have experienced the same thing and seeing how they are handling it will give you greater perspective and relieve the pressure.
It is also a good idea to ensure your network or inner circle is diverse across industries, career experience and life experiences. This will ensure you receive a wide range of ideas — and help you think outside the box.
If you have a coach, you can also reach out to him or her when you are dealing with a tough situation. However, never underestimate the value of a high-quality leadership network.