CHICAGO–What is the hardest part about being a CEO? It’s a question that leadership and culture coach Christine Comaford said she frequently gets, and her answer may surprise many.
Writing on Forbes.com, Comaford said that “Although as a CEO you get to shape a company in your image, hire people to work with you, and receive recognition for your accomplishments…It’s also incredibly lonely.”
But there are three things CEOs can do to overcome loneliness, she said.
According to Comaford, the biggest issue most CEOs say they face in their roles is not having anyone to confide in.
Comaford noted that according to the Harvard Business Review, half of CEOs express feelings of loneliness, 61% of whom say loneliness hinders their job performance.
Comaford offered these three tips for overcoming loneliness as a CEO:
Join a Support Group
“Support groups for CEOs are on the rise,” said Comaford. “Many of our clients find Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) and Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) to be terrific networking communities as well as support systems. Joining a support group will give you the safety, belonging, mattering you crave in a community of those who are similar to you, and aren’t afraid to give you some tough love and honest feedback. Forming connections with others also strongly alleviates stress.”
Balance Work and Home Life
As a CEO, Comaford said it can be impossible to ever feel “done” with work. “When work begins taking over all aspects of your life, it can be difficult to have time to form crucial social connections,” she wrote. “There are a few ways you can cultivate a balance between your work and personal life.”
Among the ways to cultivate that balance:
- Leave the office before dark
- Stay present. “Do you ever find yourself not entirely present in the moment? Your mind can wander anywhere, from a business meeting to the family dinner table. Sometimes, creating a necessary balance can be as simple as staying in the moment,” she said.
Vulnerability is Actually Strength
CEOs lead by example, observed Comaford. “Letting your team know you’re open to discussing important issues will make them feel more comfortable coming to you. Start by being in touch with how you feel at any given time. Allowing others into your personal world cultivates trust and respect, and is the perfect solution to loneliness. If you’re confiding in others, and letting them really see you, you’re breaking that barrier of isolation that comes with the job title.”