You probably have heard the term it’s lonely at the top. The top, in this case, refers to people who are in leadership positions, such as managers and CEO’s; those who own their business are also included.
These are the individuals who have to make decisions that people won’t be happy about. For instance, as the leader you may have to tell them they have to work in the coming weekend that the project deadline has been shortened. How popular will these decisions be for the team?
It’s unclear where the phrase originated. Some believe it came from the 1972 song by Randy Newman called, “Lonely at the Top.” However, it’s likely to have been coined much earlier than that. Wherever it originated from, there is no doubt what it means. When you are in a leadership position, you won’t have the friends you used to have. Makin the tough calls won’t always win you the glory.
While people may not enjoy the decisions you are left to make, they will respect them. Of course, that depends on how you present those decisions. If you are not firm in your handling of decisions, people will read this as being weak. Once that occurs, you will have a difficult time recovering from that perception. Be firm and don’t waiver.
Likewise, if you are overly firm or demanding, employees will see you as a czar and micromanager. Finding the right balance is what is needed
You should get as much information as possible before making any decisions and not fly off the handle, especially difficult ones. This can cause the wrong decisions to be made, leading to those affected to get angry, resistive, and you can lose credibility and trust as their leader. Once this happens, you will need to work hard to gain their trust back, if at all.
When you accept a leadership role, you must accept the responsibility that goes along with it. Employees aren’t going to like every choice made but you need to come to terms with this fact – it can feel lonely during these times.
Having conversations and being open with your team, such as through a town hall, an open forum, or one-on-one meetings, to discuss decisions that affect them will lesson any resistance, allow their concerns to be heard, and even get ideas for how to get others on board. As the leader, you are the one who has been put in charge of those decisions so you will have to make them with confidence.
Bottom line – you are going to make mistakes with some decisions; even when you believe you have all the necessary information, new facts of extraneous factors, may emerge to throw the original concept out of whack. You will have to find alternative actions and decisions for the greater good.
Your confidence will mean much for your credibility when this occurs. However, when you exude that confidence, your team will give you the respect you deserve.
Leadership can feel lonely but it doesn’t have to be; leading people is one of the most challenging roles to be in. But working on your professional development will allow you to grow into your role so you can lead more effectively and be the leader your people want to follow. Leadership is a never-ending learning journey that can make you a more effective leader. The more you work on your leadership development, the less lonely you will feel.
We specialize in leadership development for new and emerging leaders up to seasoned executives, as well as business owners, so they are effective in their role. Leadership development is an on-going process – we are here to provide the support you need. Call today to get started!