Several months back a client with whom I worked several years ago said she felt lonely in her senior management position and missed the opportunity to talk to someone outside her organisation. Why might you experience loneliness as a manager?
- You have to make difficult decisions that affect other people and you may feel that you cannot always give full and frank explanations.
- In managing staff you walk a fine line between being the manager and being one of the team especially when you may have to give staff unwelcome feedback.
- You compete with other managers for scarce resources within the organisation and therefore you need to be careful about the internal politics.
- Your boss may not be as supportive of your plans and goals as you would like.
- You have to follow the “party” line even when you have serious reservations about it.
If any of the above applies to you, what might you do?
- Get a mentor – someone inside your organisation with whom you can have more open conversations about the challenges of management;
- Get a coach – someone outside the organisation;
- Find a safe place where you can unload your frustrations in private;
- Find friends who are in similar management positions but who are not part of the “politics” inside your organisation.
One tactic some managers default to is to have a favourite from within their team. This approach is risky as it will alienate other members of the team and raise serious trust issues. I witnessed this first hand some years ago and the favouritism did indeed create resentment and did no favours for the manager concerned or her favourite.
There’s probably a whole lot more that could be said about the loneliness of being a manager. One thing for sure, if you are feeling lonely perhaps you need to do something about it. Bottling up the pressures of the management task is unlikely to work. In the end of the day, you have choices – how lonely do you want to feel as a manager?