As most entrepreneurs, business owners and just about anyone in an executive leadership position will tell you, it can be lonely at the top. Leadership loneliness is a real phenomenon that can start to feel overwhelming at times, especially for solopreneurs.
While a certain level of solitude might be inescapable for some leaders, there are things you can do to stay connected with others. Here, 13 members of Forbes Coaches Council share strategies solopreneurs and entrepreneurs can use to combat loneliness when they begin to feel isolated.
1. Develop A Network And Enlist A Mentor For Feedback
Loneliness is the greatest risk of a solopreneur, as I know from experience. There are two tactics to prevent this risk. The first is to develop a network of professional peers and friends to socialize and connect with. The second is to enlist a mentor as a sounding board and for candid feedback. A mentor can help with exploring options, setting goals, introducing contacts and identifying resources. - Mary Patry, ITeffectivity, LLC
2. Create An Emotional Advisory Board In Your Head
Leaders should embrace loneliness. It’s part of the job. Loneliness is part of the deal, and if someone doesn’t know that going into it, they find out. Try creating an emotional advisory board in your head. Pick people you connect with and talk about some interesting work-related, leadership issues. Don’t tell them—it might freak them out! Just go “quid pro quo” with it through coffee, lunch or returned advice. - Maureen Taylor, SNP Communications
3. Establish A Routine Of Self-Care And Social Connection
Solopreneurship can be lonely if you let it be. However, being lonely or not is a choice solopreneurs get to make. To be a more resilient solopreneur, establish a routine that incorporates physical wellness, mindfulness and social connection. Then, make meaningful social connections part of your daily and weekly routine. Mastermind groups provide excellent opportunities to make that happen. - Dennis Volpe, LRI
4. Establish A Personal Board Of Advisors
It’s impossible to know all that can happen in a solopreneur’s journey, and this can make anyone feel alone. One way to counteract this is to establish and tap into a personal board of advisors. This group can be fluid and tailored to the specific needs of the business and the psychosocial needs of the solopreneur. It may also be reciprocal in nature; the key, though, is remembering you’re not really alone. - Elizabeth Semion, Elizabeth Semion & Associates
5. Join A Mastermind Group To Connect With Peers Join a mastermind group to connect with peers who understand perfectly what you are going through, and you can help each other overcome the obstacles you are facing. - Rajeev Shroff, Cupela Consulting
6. Learn To Keep Good Company With Yourself Sometimes, it is a good idea to embrace loneliness. Use this as a time to take a deep dive into yourself. Read books about identity development, personality and why you are the way you are. Keep a reflection journal. Learning to keep good company with yourself is a skill that strong leaders practice consistently. - Natasha Ganem, Lion Leadership
7. Focus On Trust And Involve Others In Your Journey In large enterprises, instilling a culture of trust, transparency and speaking up will help leaders relate and interact on a more personal basis with their teams. This, in turn, helps to disperse any feelings of loneliness. For solopreneurs, however, it is more about involving others in their journey. Look for opportunities to network within and across industries, including ways to share and contribute to others’ learning. - Stuart Andrews, SMA Consulting
8. Engage With A Mentor/Thought Partner Regularly Engage with a mentor on a consistent basis who can assist you in developing a feeling of engagement as well as be a thought partner. Make it valuable by creating an agenda before your discussions so that these meetings will be meaningful. The key is to not make these engagements just another task on your calendar. Protect the time and use it to not only combat loneliness but also assist in your development. - Bryan Powell, Executive Coaching Space
9. Create Support Structures Before You Feel Isolated Before you start to feel isolated, it is good to create structures of support, such as a mentor, coach or mastermind, with whom you meet on a regular basis to check in and share wins and learning. Creating a social group around a hobby, sport or activity is a step in the right direction to help you step out of the mundane activities, giving you something different to look forward to. - Claudine Reid, PJ’s Community Service
10. Plan A Vacation With Friends Twice Per Year Every solopreneur should have a vacation with friends on the calendar twice a year—something to look forward to and break up the monotony of working alone for months at a time. When traveling isn’t possible, turn a vacation into a staycation and use the time to surround yourself with friends and family. Taking breaks is key to remaining creative, engaged and mentally and emotionally stable. - Amera McCoy, McCoy Consulting LLC
11. Pay Attention To Developing Relationships We are social animals, and we require community. This applies to leaders just as much as it applies to anyone else. If you are feeling isolated, reconnect with your people. Good leadership requires time and attention to the development of individual relationships based on mutual accountability and trust. A natural byproduct will be your team’s increased sense of connection and support. - Jonathan H. Westover, Utah Valley University & Human Capital Innovations, LLC
12. Establish Consistency, Positivity And Vulnerability Establish a friendship triangle, with each side of the triangle representing one of three important friendship qualities: consistency, positivity and vulnerability. Each of these qualities strengthens the other, as the healthiest relationships are built incrementally over time. Sharing vulnerabilities alleviates loneliness, being consistent builds trust, and being positive enhances everyone’s well-being. - Jay Rai, www.jayrai.com
13. Find A Safe Community For Honest Sharing It is imperative to find a safe community. Find a group in which to share honestly without fear of judgment or retribution, listen to others, and bond through a sense of some commonality. Community provides the antidote by making you feel “part of” rather than “apart.” If you don’t already have a group, you can reach out to a trusted colleague to connect and create your own cohort of support. - Lisa Marie Platske, Upside Thinking, Inc.
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