One of the biggest challenges CEOs face in their roles is not having someone to confide in. Someone who “gets it.” Being the ultimate decision maker can be isolating, especially considering the overwhelming responsibility and pressure CEOs feel to consistently deliver results.
Harvard Business Review reported that 50% of CEOs admitted to feeling lonely at work. Of this group, 61% of CEOs believed that their loneliness hindered their performance. Among first-time CEOs, the numbers in both categories climb to 70%.
So, what can you do?
Keep reading to learn how networking groups make the top a little less lonely.
Networking is no longer about climbing the corporate ladder—it’s about taking your business to the next level through your relationships with other leaders. Business owners often make the best advisors for one another.
Talking to other CEOs and business owners who have similar experiences and share an understanding of the responsibilities that come with the title is extremely valuable.
They possess a level of understanding that others may not, including your friends and family. Even consulting with professional advisors such as accountants or lawyers is not always the answer, as they may have their best interests in mind rather than yours.
Your peers who have walked the same path can empathize, offer advice, and provide a sounding board for ideas.
CEOs and business owners can find themselves with their blinders on, working in their business rather than on it. They often miss the big picture and some of the real opportunities for growth, as well as possible threats to their business.
You may find yourself struggling through the same ongoing issues in your business: it feels like you’re going in circles, not making any headway. Networking with other business owners will pull you out of the day-to-day and force you to look at the big picture. Your networking group will also offer a fresh set of eyes on the challenges you’re facing, offering different perspectives and new ways of thinking about your problem – and the possible solutions.
Take Henry Ford, for example. By the early 1910s, the Model T was already one of the most popular cars in North America, but Ford wanted to do more. He wanted to make it the car of the masses, which meant he needed to expand production and reduce the price.
Ford had previously observed assembly line and conveyer belt systems used in slaughterhouses and grain warehouses and also consulted with Frederick Taylor, a world-leading mechanical engineer, in order to perfect the system in his own plant.
By pioneering this style of manufacturing, Ford developed the world’s first large-scale assembly line. In doing so, he was able to reduce per car production time from 12 hours to only 93 minutes and bring the Model T’s price down by a whopping $565 (equivalent to more than $19,000 today).
By looking at another industry, Ford revolutionized and transformed his own.
As a CEO or business owner, you are faced with unique challenges and decisions every day. It is important to openly discuss your successes and hurdles with a group of other CEOs and business owners who understand what it’s like to be at the top.
Having the opportunity to seek – in confidence – advice and ideas to resolve the challenges you are facing is an invaluable resource.
Gather a group of CEOs around a table on a regular basis who share these characteristics:
Have diverse experiences Are in non-competing industries Share a vision of long-term, sustainable, and profitable growth for their businesses
There won’t be a problem they can’t solve or a goal they can’t achieve if they work together and support each other.
Remember, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
As the saying goes, it’s lonely at the top. Due to the nature of their position, CEOs and business owners face the ultimate responsibility of ensuring that the business runs smoothly – but being accountable to only yourself can be hazardous.
This is especially true when considering innovation. Business owners know that innovation is critical to the long-term success of their business, especially in our current age of changing customer expectations, rapid advances in technology, and digital disruption. But innovation seldom fails due to a lack of creativity – it almost always fails due to a lack of discipline.
When you commit to meeting with a group of trusted advisors, you are much more likely to achieve your goals.
The Bottom Line
We cannot succeed on our own. Effective CEOs and business owners need to work diligently to build a strong network for guidance in times of uncertainty, support in times of difficulty, and celebration in times of success.
Innovators Alliance is a peer-to-peer networking group of CEOs committed to driving business growth through innovation. Join us for an upcoming event to see what it’s all about!
Is your company innovative? Try our NEW Innovation Self-Assessment. It takes less than 5 minutes!
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Peggie Pelosi is the Executive Director of Innovators Alliance. She works with entrepreneurs and CEOs throughout Ontario to ensure they have access to the tools and resources to ensure profitable growth through innovation. Peggie is a seasoned entrepreneur and innovator, having built two companies which have both been game-changers in their industries. Peggie teaches in the space of Social Innovation in graduate business programs at the University of Toronto-St. Michael’s College and Seneca College.