I am always fascinated when I hear people in a leadership position say, “It’s lonely at the top!”
My immediate thought is, “If it’s lonely at the top for you, you must not have anyone following you!” Great leaders know that it’s imperative to take others along with them on the journey.
As John C. Maxwell states in his groundbreaking book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, “Nobody does anything great alone. Leaders do not succeed alone. A leaders’ potential is determined by those closest to him. What makes a difference is the leader’s inner circle.” If you want to achieve a dream, you have to have a dream team!
Now, I certainly understand how that “lonely at the top” philosophy originated. Back in my early career I was surrounded by Level One leaders who tried to lead by title alone. Their methodology at that time (way back in the 1980’s-the buzz word was “management) was, “I’m the boss and have the title so I have the authority.” That style of leadership thankfully is diminishing as true leaders begin to realize that effective leadership today is all about team leadership, connecting with your team, and letting your team’s voices be heard. In doing so, the team will feel that they have had ownership in providing a solution to the challenge or project.
Twenty-first century leadership is all built on team leadership because nobody does everything well. It’s vitally important that the leader understand his own strengths and weaknesses, know the strength of his team members and inner circle and allows them to each operate in their strength zones. This is how you create a powerful connection with your team that buys in to the leaders vision.
Mother Teresa stated, “You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things.”
John Maxwell also chimed in by saying, “There are no Lone Ranger leaders. Think about it: if you’re alone, you’re not leading anybody, are you?”
Who are you leading and drawing into your inner circle?
Most people create an inner circle of people. However, they are usually not strategic in doing so. Few people give enough thought to how those closest to them impact their effectiveness or leadership potential. It is imperative that all of us become much more intentional when it comes to building our relationships. What is the purpose, project or mission you are seeking to accomplish? If you take the time to think strategically about the end game, you can then assemble a dream team.
Only if you reach your potential as a leader do your people have a chance to reach their potential. This is why it is so vital that leaders recognize that their own personal growth is mandatory in order to help others grow and as a result help an organization grow.
So, if you believe it is lonely at the top, I would suggest you take someone with you and make the journey exciting. King Solomon of ancient Israel recognized this truth when he said, “As iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen the minds of each other.”
Consider the following:
1. Do you know who your inner circle members are? Take the time to list them now.
2. Can this group of inner circle member get you to where you want to go?
3. How can you develop your inner circle?
4. Do you need to change your inner circle members?