I recently shared on the danger signs of loneliness. Several people then shared their private experiences in dealing with isolation and feeling disconnected from others with me. Because leaders are with people a great deal and because they are actively engaged online, the effects of isolation are usually not fully felt until a crisis hits. The crisis may come through burnout, a leadership problem too large to handle alone, or a personal family problem.
Leaders are busy. One reason you are in a leadership position is because of your ability to handle a broad and complex range of work (strategy, planning, execution, people, market knowledge, etc.). Your plate is full and running over. You simply don’t have time for community but you need it more than you realize. In the give and take of leadership community, you will stretch and grow to reach your full potential as a leader.
Here are some ways you can start now to break the cycle of leading alone.
1. Take the initiative
You have to risk. Pick one or two other leaders that you respect and have enough in common for shared learning, shared support, and shared growth. It may take you a few meetings to find the right combination of leaders to meet with on a more regular basis but the effort will be worth it. It is good to have one or two leaders outside your organization, church, or team. This will allow for a more objective level of sharing.
2. Make the time
I know, you don’t have the time but you have to make the time. Schedule it. The when and how you connect is less important than you making it a regular and ongoing connection with other leaders. You are blessed if it can be weekly but for most it will be monthly or even longer. The formal time will build the informal times when you can just pick up the phone and call if a need arises. Getting it in the routine of your life will take it to the level of importance.
3. Risk sharing
Trust is a critical part of any relationship. That takes time. I remember a leader I met with for several months before trust was built and we moved to authentic leadership support. It may take time but take the risk. You can’t build leadership community unless you are willing to share more openly about yourself – your past, your goals, your challenges, your failures, your fears, and your future.
4. Commitment to grow
Leadership community gives you the opportunity to learn and grow. Your organization needs you to grow. A healthy growing leader creates a healthy growing organization. You need to broaden your view of your organization and meeting with other leaders will do that. Sometimes our challenges seem overwhelming. I often find that meeting with other leaders helps me get perspective and my own challenges seem less. There is also the growth that happens on a more personal level as you become accountable to others in how you are leading. And finally, you will grow spiritually, as you pray with other leaders. One of the greatest gifts of leadership community is knowing someone is praying for you.
5. Serving other leaders
Leadership community is not just about you. There are other leaders right now who need you to pour into them. There are leaders who need you so they know they are not alone. They need you to share your wisdom, experiences, and challenges with them to keep them from giving up or losing heart. They need you to pray for them and to be there for them in a crisis. Don’t miss the blessing of helping another leader grow.
God never meant us to do life alone. How are you building leadership community? Please share your insights in breaking out of isolation into relationships with other leaders.