Leaders set the tone and direction for engagement in the workplace. To do this effectively they need to identify their natural instinctive behavioral talents. These provide reliable predictors of how a person will consistently perform over the long term. Using their talents, making decisions with the least stress, and responding to changing life and work factors, is what their “go to” behavior is under pressure.
The 2015 Gallup study titled ‘State of the American Manager’ studied 2.5 million manager-led teams noted:
Companies that hire managers based on talent realize a 48% increase in profitability, a 22% increase in productivity, a 30% increase in employee engagement scores, a 17% increase in customer engagement scores and a 19% decrease in turnover. Source
Talent is defined as a special natural ability or aptitude; a capacity for achievement or success
The key word here is ‘natural’.
The majority of managers working in the U.S. today are wrong for their role. That’s not to say these people don’t have talent. On the contrary, their talent probably made them quite successful in their previous, non-managerial role. But the talent that makes someone a great salesperson, accountant or engineer is not the same talent that makes him or her a great manager. In fact, Gallup has found that only 10% of working people possess the talent to be a great manager. Source
The further up the hierarchical ladder a leader goes, the more likely a leader feels isolated and lonely. This is especially true if they believe the promotion is above their level of competency. This leads to poor decision making and even poorer communication. More worrisome is the belief by the isolated leader eventually believes that they are doing a great job!
In a recent survey the Plank Center at the University of Alabama and Heyman Associates, observed the following:
The perceptions of top leaders and followers. Top leaders rated their performance, trust, work engagement, job satisfaction and organizational culture significantly higher than followers at all levels. Things look different and far better at the top. Leaders may often rate their own performance higher than do followers, but the size of the gaps in the study is substantial. Leaders can reduce the gaps by 1) increasing power sharing, 2) strengthening two-way communications, and 3) enhancing interpersonal skills to enrich relationships and teamwork. Source
Leaders may indeed feel isolated and lonely, but the risk is that this creates an information vacuum around them, resulting in employees withholding important and sometimes unpleasant information.
Understanding a person’s inherent leadership style (we all have one) ensures that leaders understand the differences between times of reflection, feelings of isolation, sensations of loneliness and how to manage each state.
Reflection: Some leaders need quiet time for reflection, planning, thought, and inspiration.
Isolation: Some leaders with a more engaging behavior are stimulated by conversation and connection, yet allow the position of leadership to cut them off from this ‘energy’.
Loneliness: Some leaders struggle with their leadership position having possibly enjoyed the ‘mateship’ of teams leading to loss, sadness and feelings of loneliness.
As human beings, we are not designed to live alone. We’re ultimately designed to need one another. The degree to which that need is met depends a lot on understanding inherent natural behavior. Without behavioral insight, individuals may never fully grasp how to be effective in leadership.
Using a discovery process, such as DNA Behavior, http://www.businessdnaresources.com/natural-behavior-discovery, natural talent can be revealed. This is our natural instinctive “hard-wired” behavior. Armed with this insight, leaders do not need to feel isolated or lonely. This knowledge will reveal not only their preferred operating style, but also provide signposts to the kind of support group necessary to ensure effective leadership.
Authentic leaders build close relationships with people who can counsel them in times of uncertainty. They engage in conversations with other leaders. And they continue to participate in executive education and management training programs.
As John Maxwell says:
Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flow charts. It is about one life influencing another.
The most effective cure’ for leadership isolation/loneliness is to understand your inherent behavior, communication approach, and talents so that you can be proud of your leadership legacy.