A Harris poll of CEOs reveals what many have said for a long time – that it’s lonely at the top – but adds that isolation hinders performance.
The intensity of the CEO’s job, coupled with the scarcity of peers to confide in, creates potentially dangerous feelings of isolation among chief executives. Fifty percent of all CEOs report experiencing loneliness in the role, and of this group, 61% believe that the isolation hinders their performance. First-time CEOs are particularly susceptible to this isolation, with nearly 70% of those who experience loneliness saying it negatively ?of CEOs report experiencing loneliness in the role affects their ability to do their jobs. Nearly half of all CEOs estimate that most other leaders experience similar feelings of loneliness.
Perhaps it’s a poor parallel, but the parish priest comes to mind. Often a kind of CEO (though of course all comparisons break down), a member of the clergy can spend time with people as befits his/her job description but still come up feeling lonely, or at least isolated. We’ve talked about this some on the Café.
Harvard Business Review blogger Thomas Saporito adds:
Anyone who has stepped into a new leadership role knows that the less-than-positive feelings that come with authority are often unexpected. CEOs and other leaders go to great lengths to maintain a façade of unflappable confidence — concealing any insecurities or feelings of anxiety. But this cycle creates dangerous problems for both leaders and their organizations as a whole. In today’s high-stakes business environment, leaders cannot afford to ignore doubts and anxieties that risk impacting their entire organization. Now is the time for leaders to acknowledge these feelings and work proactively to defeat them.