Leadership is a solitary experience, which is why it is so hard.
I realized this many years ago after helping a CEO develop her company narrative for about six months. One of this project’s milestones was to inspire people to support her organization during a talk on stage at a large conference. She nailed it and was really happy.
After the talk, I asked her if we could have coffee together to hear her feedback about our collaboration.
In the conversation, I asked her what her single most important learning was.
Frankly, I was expecting her answer to be about one of the tools and frameworks I had shared with her during the process. But no, instead, her answer was more simple and human.
“I learned that I needed someone like you to keep me going and to make me feel less lonely.”
That day, I learned that leading with an inspiring narrative is also about having the humility to ask for encouragement and support. You can’t ask a creative agency to come up with your vision for you. You have to do it yourself. But it’s also OK to feel like you could use some help.
If you are in a management role, you may think that you should pull off a clear strategic vision on your own for the whole organization. You may have a terrible feeling of guilt if you can’t articulate the company’s purpose into a powerful pitch, all by yourself. This is especially what first-time founders experience.
Do it yourself, but don’t do it alone.
The myth of the lone genius is a dangerous one.
How to break this cycle?
There is value in having a support network. You can either build your own or join one.
Imagine what could happen if you decided to join or create a community of people moving in the same direction?
If you’re humble enough to listen carefully to the people surrounding you, you will always glean a perspective that you were either unable to see yourself of that you didn’t expect.
Better, if you can pay it forward, it’s even more powerful. If you can offer support to another business leader or help this person create a support network for themself, you will have a big impact.