Leadership can be a lonely endeavor. As recent as January 8th of last year I wrote an article entitled Loneliness in All Aspects of Leadership. In that article I dealt with the sense of loneliness we can experience when we lead with a strong sense of conviction that may be at odds with popular sentiments.
What Can Be Done About Loneliness in Leadership?
Leaders many times feel lonely because there are often not enough peers in their immediate circle of influence who have a common understanding and sense of what they are experiencing. That is merely a restatement of the problem. But, what can we do about it?
Recognizing a problem is always a first step in solving a problem. Leaders must recognize their loneliness and sense of isolation. They must then move on with confidence that loneliness and isolation are not signs of weakness in a leader. They just go along with the territory.
Now That We Recognize It, What is Next?
The next step may take us from our comfort zone. We must reach out to other leaders who may be operating in similar environments, or other leaders who may be facing similar challenges. We need to find a cohort. We actually need to find a group or a band of cohorts.
Cohort? What’s a “cohort”?
The dictionary says that a cohort is an ancient Roman military unit comprising six centuries and that is equal to one tenth of a legion. Another definition is a group of people banded together or treated as a group. My understanding is a mixture of those two definitions. I am drawn to the military context because of my love for Roman history. And even the word “banded together” has those same undertones.
What is the Leadership Lesson?
The leadership lesson is that we must, I repeat, we must “band together” as leaders. There is strength in number and there is encouragement in being with folks who are like-minded. But there is more to it than just some camaraderie. As leaders, we must have cohorts with whom we can share our challenges and our struggles.
Is there more to it than that?
Yes. We need other leaders to inspire and to challenge us. And, although this may not come easily to us, we need cohorts who will hold us accountable for the actions or inactions. We need cohorts to come along side us and provide “field level” support. A cohort is not back in the home office or headquarters. Go back to the Roman soldier definition. A cohort was a fellow soldier. A cohort was not the Caesar. A cohort was not the general. A cohort was found in the trench within earshot of you if and when you needed them.
What about you?
Do you have any cohorts? Do you have even one? I am blessed to have about 6 or 7 cohorts that are standing with me to face the various challenges of my life, my family, my career, and my passion for leadership. And, thanks to technology, they are all within “earshot.” One is as far away as California, one is in Ohio, one is in Wyoming, one is in Virginia, and I have several here in Texas.
Look around you. You will find some cohort candidates if you just try. If you look and you can’t find any, reach out to us here at Leadership Voices and we will try to connect with you or help you find someone in your area.