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Executive Coaching… For When It’s Lonely at the Top

Updated on May 3, 2012

As we work our way up through the ranks to reach the dizzy heights of leadership, often it can be difficult to appreciate the things that we are leaving behind. We strive towards roles which challenge us to use our highest capabilities and which reward us with impressive salaries, greater kudos and a sense of power, and all we can see is what we have to gain, not what we might have to lose.

Working lower down in an organization typically brings with it a sense of camaraderie. Often it involves working as part of a team whose members are available to offer advice, support or just a friendly ear. We are surrounded by people who act as our sounding boards and who will usually be quite happy to offer their frank opinions on our creative ideas and the soundness of our decisions. Often these are things which we take for granted, until of course, we find ourselves sitting alone in our ivory towers knowing that the buck stops with us.

Like many popular sayings, the old adage “It’s lonely at the top” didn’t come from nowhere. Corporate executives and leaders, not to mention the owners of businesses both small and large, soon come to understand the sense of isolation which often goes hand-in-hand with their elevated positions. In many ways, it’s not hard to see why these feelings of loneliness develop though. After all, those at the top of an organization are much more likely to be privy to confidential information which can’t be shared with those who are lower down the ranks. When it comes to making important decisions based on this “insider” knowledge, executives and leaders can’t reach out to a much wider audience for opinions or advice, and indeed part of the reason that they are typically paid so well is because they are called upon to use their own decision-making skills to make sound judgments and choices. In addition, of course, working to meet the higher aims and objectives of a business sometimes requires executives and leaders to make extremely unpopular decisions which might inflame or disappoint the workforce and cause discontent. In many cases, even the mere fact that those at the top of the corporate ladder are physically removed from the majority of the workforce on the shop floor can lead to feelings of isolation.

The feeling of loneliness which comes with executive and leadership positions is not something that organizations necessarily provide help or support with, but it is just one of the important factors which can be addressed through executive coaching. As with all types of online coaching, executive coaching doesn’t prescribe where its focus lies. Instead, it concentrates on those areas where the individual him or herself wants and needs encouragement, support and guidance, and indeed for many the whole purpose of turning to executive coaching is to learn new strategies for dealing with the feelings of isolation which sometimes strike those at the top.

As the most effective executive coaching services are provided by those who have spent many years in leadership positions themselves, those who avail themselves of their services can benefit from having an experienced mentor and champion on their side to walk them through difficult situations, help them draw on their own natural strengths and build (or re-build) their sense of self-belief.

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