There’s a famous saying — “It’s lonely at the top.” CEOs often find this saying true. In fact, a study by Harvard Business Review found that over half of CEOs feel lonely in their role, and 61% indicated that feelings of loneliness hinder their performance.
As the individual with the most significant level of responsibility for the success or failure of a company, the CEO can feel uncomfortable sharing their thoughts or worries with team members.
After all, the CEO is expected to lead the team and develop a vision for the business. If they express concern over the company, it can easily filter down the ranks and lead staff members to feel worried. Feelings of worry can negatively impact staff performance and result in gossip and rumors.
It is crucial to find an outlet for CEOs to express their thoughts and concerns. While a CEO may not want to share every business detail, there are ways to cope with loneliness while in the CEO role, whether that’s a healthcare CEO, a private equity CEO, a finance CEO, or another industry-specific chief executive officer.
Here are a few.
A CEO should have a trusted advisor with whom they can share ideas and thoughts. The advisor can be someone who is involved with the company, such as a member of the board of directors. In some cases, prior CEOs can assist newer CEOs and provide insights based on their experience in the job.
If no one in the company is the right fit to be an advisor, a spouse may be able to assist.
Therapists and business coaches are often great people to turn to when seeking to avoid feelings of loneliness. Both therapists and business coaches are required to keep conversations to themselves, making these great options for someone who doesn’t want any concerns of the business to be potentially aired in a public setting.
Therapists have the added benefit of suggesting methods that can help ease stress — something that CEOs have to deal with regularly.
Exercise is an excellent solution for CEOs with a lot of stress. Regular exercise releases endorphins, providing a better mood and stress-banishing benefits. CEOs who regularly exercise may find they gain mental clarity and can strategically resolve business issues.
Deciding to implement a regular exercise program has other benefits, too. Joining a group of people who engage in regular activities is a great way to make new connections healthily. Running clubs, hiking groups, and fitness classes can provide a CEO with new friends they can relate to through exercise.
Various support groups are available that cater to the needs of the CEO. The Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) are great ways to network with other CEOs and business founders.
A CEO can establish new connections and discuss problems within the organization. Frequently, other CEOs are in an excellent position to provide helpful advice.
CEO support groups often have regular meetings that discuss important topics for business managers and leaders. In addition to meeting people, a CEO can stay on top of their leadership skills by attending presentations and programs designed for executive leaders.
No one’s life should revolve entirely around work — even a CEO’s. It’s essential to make time for family, friends, and personal hobbies.
Make a habit of leaving the office at a regular time. Leaving at business close also establishes a clear precedent for staff members. Managers and employees who stay at the office all hours of the day can become burnt out. Burnout can lead to bad decisions and general unhappiness at the office.
Ensuring the CEO and all staff members know when to leave their work at the office and engage in some free time is crucial to a successful business. Management and staff are more likely to bring fresh ideas to the team and be more engaging when they have time for themselves and aren’t constantly surrounded by work.
A CEO shouldn’t lead a business from a silo. A good CEO will find time to meet regularly with all of the departments they oversee. Regular interaction can help CEOs understand when problems arise and provide guidance to resolve issues.
Communication also helps develop stronger relationships with team members, which can help CEOs who struggle with feeling lonely.
CEOs whose team members work on a partially or fully-remote basis should make an even greater effort to stay in regular contact with their teams. Setting up weekly calls with each department can provide insight to CEOs on their staff members’ productivity and how they handle their days.
Wisdom gleaned from the calls can give CEOs the knowledge they need to make better business decisions that positively impact both workers and the company.
Journaling is often recommended to individuals who struggle with anxiety or stress. The premise is that writing can give a positive outlet to release frustrations and may even lead to solutions that haven’t previously been considered.
While journaling is done on your own, it can provide a safe environment for CEOs facing challenging issues that they must thoroughly consider before making a decision.
If journaling doesn’t spark any interest, writing a book might. People are often interested in how a CEO thinks and how they have become successful executive leaders. Sometimes writing down the journey to the C-suite can inspire the confidence needed for continued success. It may also inspire others interested in obtaining the CEO title.
As the number one employee in an organization, the CEO is expected to lead the team and develop a strategic vision for the company’s future. However, the position itself often results in a sense of loneliness. There are no bosses to oversee the CEO’s actions and less guidance than other employees receive regularly.
Finding a trusted advisor to turn to when serious problems arise may be challenging. CEOs can avert feelings of loneliness by finding peers in similar roles, networking, and keeping a balance between their personal and work responsibilities.
Our hands-on executive recruiters have experience working with private, public, pre-IPO, and non-profit organizations. Clients are typically $50 million in revenue to Fortune 1000’s or have assets between $500 million to $15 billion. Successful placements span the entire C-Suite – CEO, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and include vice president, general counsel, and other director-level leadership roles.
Cowen Partners delivers 3X more qualified candidates than the competition. Through our proven retained executive search process, we find, vet, and deliver the top 1% of candidates for positions across the C-suite. Our process works for all industries, including technology, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, real estate, financial service, private equity, and more.
Learn how we deliver top talent, no matter the need, with our industry-leading research and resources. Discover the strategy that made Cowen Partners the top retained executive search firm in New York, Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, and beyond.