Leadership can be a lonely job. Despite having dozens, hundreds, even thousands of people who look up to you, chances are, you feel isolated more often than you’d like to admit.
The people who work for you may be reluctant to engage you in friendly conversation or they may hesitate to provide you with valuable feedback on how you are doing as a leader.
Beyond that, you may be reluctant to open up to your boss or peers, concerned that you will come across as indecisive, insecure or weak. As a result, you sometimes find yourself feeling unsupported and uncertain, making important decisions without sufficient input or support.
The simple truth is, to be a great leader, you can’t go it alone. Instead you must surround yourself with people who will pressure-test your decisions, provide divergent points of view, support you on tough calls, and champion your vision across the organization.
Here are five kinds of advisors who will help you thrive as a leader:
- Wise mentors. These are people who know the organization, are politically savvy, and can help you lead in the face of complexity. While your manager can serve as a mentor, it is important to enlist mentors who don’t have direct control over your next performance evaluation.
- Trusted peers. These are the colleagues who sit beside you on your boss’s leadership team. They may run another function, region or business unit. Or they may sit outside the company but participate with you in industry events or leadership roundtables. Be sure to identify peer advisors whose opinion you respect and who are invested in helping you succeed.
- Your direct reports. A good leader is unafraid to ask his or her team for suggestions, feedback, and potential solutions. You’ve taken the time to hire a smart, talented group of leaders. Use them to help you make stellar decisions and work through challenges.
- An exceptional leadership advisor or coach. There was a time when leaders worked with coaches because they were struggling or on the verge of failure. That’s never been a great use of organizational dollars. The best investment a company can make is in helping its top executives and rising stars to get even better, faster. The fact is, as a successful leader, you have many strengths upon which to build. By working with a top-tier executive advisor, you invest in yourself, your team, your company, and your clients.
- Yourself. While it is valuable to have an array of advisors to help you excel as a leader and thrive as a person, don’t underestimate your ability to step back and thoughtfully reflect on the decisions you make, the style you bring, your talents, passions, strengths, and gaps. I advise my clients to step out of the busyness of their roles and build in time for strategic pauses. This gives them space to consider their approach and become their own thoughtful advisor.
Great leaders know, it’s neither a luxury nor an indulgence to turn to others for advice and support, as they attend to the incredibly demanding and rewarding work of running an organization. So, have you got your own five advisors?There’s no time like the present to engage the right people to accelerate your leadership impact and personal success.