It’s Lonely at the Top

by Brad Lantz, Inner Circle Twin Cities

The following is the first of thirty-eight posts on the important topic: Is Your Business Helping You to Lead a Richer Life? It falls under the category of discovering and maximizing Who You Are.

Most entrepreneurs nod their heads when I bring up that it’s lonely at the top. They seem to relate to it for several reasons – they remember the times when:

  • They extended decision-making, or did not make decisions because of a lack of 20/20 hindsight they needed that could have made a big difference in their business.
  • They were uncomfortable with certain business acumen, and it prevents them from moving ahead.
  • They didn’t have others they trusted or leadership within to bounce their ideas off, and this caused missed opportunities.
  • They are uncertain of how to weigh cost value relationships.
  • Experiences where they had been held “accountable” for their actions, sometimes prevents them from holding others or themselves accountable.

Many thoughts race through our heads, and can be different for each of us. Or is it? One of the biggest surprises that Inner Circle Twin Cities members realize is the many similarities between their company and the other (non-competing) companies in our circles. In fact, often their first questions before coming to a meeting are, “I have a (service or a manufacturing) company. What will I get from other businesses so different from mine, and what can I learn from them?

Yet, it never ceases to amaze them and me when one member shares his or her toughest business issue, and how many others take out their pen and paper and start writing down the forth-coming suggestions. It seems like almost all of them have the same issue(s)—albeit just below the surface in their company. They find that the overarching issues/strategies are very similar between companies. When they comment on their experiences about an issue, several others are doing the same, with their own unique twist. And from this, they get ideas they would have never considered in their industry.

Having their own “board of advisors”—their ‘Inner Circle’ of other owners and leaders in companies—allows them to make better, faster, more-confident decisions. Now they don’t have to extend or delay decisions that they otherwise would have because they had been unable to gain confidence that their thinking was not just some crazy idea.

Most also say since they joined our circles, they have never hired so many consultants. It was not because they didn’t need help in the past; it might have been they just did not know who to trust to help them.  Or they did not realize the value that could be gained by hiring an expert in whatever area where they were weak. With their circle of owners, they realized how much it was costing them not to hire someone who could train their team in a skill they lacked.

The accountability of the other owners and leaders has been both an attraction and a deterrent to being a part of the group.  Some members are not yet at a point where they can have others hold them accountable to what they say they want. Why?  Some are concerned this would drudge up thoughts of when they worked for others who were critical or judgmental.

Is it lonely at the top? It doesn’t have to be! It certainly is a lot easier being a leader with trusted advisors coming alongside.

Questions to ask yourself regarding being lonely at the top:

  1. Ask yourself who is in your “Inner Circle.”
  2. Who are the people you go to when you are stumped? When you encounter something in which you have little experience?
  3. Who do you trust?  It is said that power reduces trust, so who acts in your best interest, with little regard to payback?
  4. There is a high price for the pursuit of success and power, many have paid that price in loss of family and friends, and an increase in self-destructive behaviors and depression. Is your business costing you more now than you will be willing to pay later?