The Lonely Leader

by Karen Lindsey

I grew up around and started my career in a corporate environment.  My dad was a CEO of a billion-dollar aerospace company and I rose the leadership ranks in large media and entertainment companies.  I witnessed from my dad and the executives I worked with then experienced myself the stress, weight, and isolation of having to make difficult decisions with far-reaching impacts on organizations and individuals.  While others may be involved in the decision-making process, often the final decision came down to one person.

I married someone with a different perspective.  He is the founder and owner of a multi-million-dollar transportation business and software business he built from the ground up.  He feels even more isolated with no other executives in his company to bounce ideas off of or participate in his higher-level, strategic decision-making.  It all falls on him.  He complained early in our relationship that as a business owner he doesn’t get any strategic input, feedback, or inspiration from others.  He hasn’t had a boss or peers in over 30 years. 

A leader doesn’t have to be at the top of an organization to feel lonely.  Many leaders don’t feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, concerns, ideas or feelings for a variety of reasons.  They could be dealing with a highly confidential situation that restricts their ability to share.  They may not feel comfortable sharing for fear of perceptions of weakness.  They may not trust others in their organization well enough.  They may not feel they have a resource with enough knowledge to understand the circumstances.

Being a lonely leader is not the best scenario for leaders or for their organizations.  A leader can be more effective when they have someone to provide unbiased feedback, a “mirror” to help the leader see how their behavior and decisions may be landing on others, and tools to help a leader continue to grow and develop, and be the best they can be.  A leader can make better and more confident decisions when they have someone to bounce them off of and provide new or different perspectives.  A leader can enjoy leadership more with a confidant and sounding board that helps the leader play at the top of their game, and when leaders play at the top of their game, the whole organization benefits from it. 

You don’t have to be a lonely leader.  A qualified executive coach can be that confidant, resource and partner for you.  For more information see or contact Karen at

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