Lonely executives sit on the ground | Lonely at the Top

Lonely at the Top

Kurt Wilkin

To the outside world, CEOs appear to have it all — authority, respect, and money, the trappings of a position that is the culmination of years or decades of incessant hard work (and good fortune). The truth? These things don’t necessarily equate to happiness — this an elusive state which money can’t buy. No one wants to admit it, but it’s true what they say – it is truly lonely at the top.

In this article by Patrick Lencioni, he says that CEOs find solace with their board of directors and often surround themselves with yes-people who flatter and buoy them no matter how absurd their proposals and decisions may be. These connections aren’t genuine because they are propelled by blind loyalty, which obviously doesn’t equate to love.

So what if no one wants to hang out with them after work, right? They have families living in their multi-million dollar homes. Can’t they just go home and fulfill that longing for connection with their spouses or their kids?

Lencioni says in his article that CEOs do go home to their spouses but their family usually can’t fully comprehend their challenges because they are totally unique to them. The CEOs and their spouses essentially live in different worlds, with different hopes and fears.

But there is a group that CEOs might not have tapped yet — their leadership team. Their team can provide some companionship and friendship. But this is not without risks. The power between them is not equal so it’s not an easy situation overall, especially if the CEO has to fire one of them.

I’m really sorry, Mike, but you have become redundant. Same time at the tennis court tomorrow?” Awkward. This doesn’t mean that CEOs shouldn’t pursue friendships with members of their leadership teams though. With the right intentions and mutual respect, bonds can be formed.

CEOs do need to take charge of their own well-being to ensure success, not only in their businesses and careers but in their own mind, body, and spirit. Money can’t buy you happiness – but I would argue that positive mental health will get you most of the way there!

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