The Dangers of Alone

We’ve all heard it’s lonely at the top. The real danger is being alone in your convictions.

As a leader of a company or an institution, you can be surrounded by the best people with the best intentions, yet be alone in your convictions. Your “best people”, be it a perception they’re doing the best thing for the company or institution for whom they work, there’s is a conviction they’re right.

They think they know more about the issues. Maybe they don’t know enough about the issue to tackle it on their own and are afraid to ask for help. Maybe their ego clashes with your own. Maybe there’s a personal bond between you and a key person that has been broken. In any or all of these cases, as their leader, you’re left alone.

The irony is you may start down the same path, initially want the same things but lose somehow, one or the other person(s) loses their way.

The danger is, if you are left alone in your conviction your decisions will be undermined. You will experience outright rebellion, where its obvious where you stand. You can deal directly with the issue and the person or persons who oppose you on the issue. The danger is the person(s) may be a valuable asset and leave, or simply refuse to work with you on the issue.

Compromise is by far and away the best alternative. The less desirable alternative is to replace the person(s). This will result in all sorts of new challenges let alone delays, even if in the end, you get the results you need and want.

The person(s) who think they know more about what’s best on an issue, may say “Yes”, do nothing, or stall a process to keep the initiative from moving forward. Basically, they’re blowing smoke up your behind. The danger is the stall. Delays will doom an initiative to fail. This is also the case when they are in over their head and are afraid to admit it.

Ego is always a danger in as a leadership issue. If you have someone you depend upon who’s ego gets in the way, it’s a complex situation. It could simply be personal, a matter of respect. The person(s) believes they’re the smartest person in the room and there’s no room for anyone else’s opinion. Worse it could be jealousy or contempt which boils down to a lack of respect.

To deal with most if not all of these issues, first look retrospectively into your own objectives, and communicate with the person(s). Be honest and forthright in your convictions and your own doubts. A compromise may be the result. Be honest about your concerns about the person(s) motives outlined here as well. Considering the resolution is to move forward in your convictions you have to make decision, regardless.

Do you get a “yes”, a commitment to move forward with your initiative? Great. If you get the affirmative, but see there is a lukewarm reception towards moving forward, closely monitor the results. If there’s a bigger issue, a lack of the skills necessary and most likely an ego clash, you need to find someone you can trust, someone capable of carrying forward your initiatives.

If you feel like there’s a problem with the person(s) leadership skills, I recommend enrolling the person(s) in a Dale Carnegie leadership/management course and recommend they read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey.

Finally, if is a personal bond broken between you and another person(s), quickly mend the fences. This may require great personal sacrifice. You acquiesce through humility and forgiveness on your part. If there’s no healing salve, find an exit strategy for that person(s) as quickly as possible.

The alternative is, at the very least lack of focus at the very worst, a chasm amongst and between you and anyone whomever supports that person(s). If that person(s) is otherwise a great asset to the company or institution, you have to decide what’s best all concerned. If you let someone else drive a wedge between you, your people and the business, all will suffer.

And that my fellow leaders, are the “dangers of alone”.

Successful business people stand on ground that is “crumbling beneath their feet,” Joseph Schumpeter

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