Leadership is lonely and when you’re a woman leader it can be even lonelier. As you take on more responsibilities, you find your group of friends getting smaller. You don’t like it but you chalk it up to the price you pay for being a good leader.
I did the same thing. As I “grew in my leadership” I found myself having very few friends in general and almost no close friends. I told myself that because I was an introvert I didn’t need other people around me and for a while I convinced myself this was true.
But having no community around me, no place that felt safe enough for me to share the things going on in my life, resulted in me living half a life, which was essentially living no life at all. In time, I learned to make different choices and created a new way of being as a leader.
I believe this rhetoric around leadership being lonely can be changed but it will require some courageous women leaders. If you are one of those women, here are some ways you can shift that paradigm in your own life.
Be honest about what you need
You may be a raging introvert but you’re still not meant to do life alone. Pretending that you don’t need anybody or that you’ll be “fine” is detrimental to your soul and your overall health and well being.
Lying to everyone else is one thing but lying to yourself will keep you stuck feeling like something is missing from your life. Be honest with yourself about what you really need from a support system. Write it down, be specific, and set an intention to figure out a way to create that in your life.
Know where people fit in your life
Your circle of friends should have an inner, middle and outer ring.
The inner ring is reserved for the people closest to you. Your, as Brene´ Brown puts it, move a body friend. The person you call if you had to move a dead body because they would help without asking questions. This ring should have no more than three (3) people in it.
The middle ring is a close group of friends who you see on a regular basis and have an intimate connection with them. They know most everything about you and are the people who help ground you when life feels out of control. This group usually has 12 to 15 people.
The outer ring is everyone else. You are usually connected to these people because of a shared experience. For example, you work together and get along, your kids are on the same team together, or you go to the same yoga class. The connection is more situational than truly relational.
Look at the people in your life and decide which level of the circle they belong knowing that, over time, people will move around. As you shift to a new normal (like taking on more responsibilities) not everyone can make that journey with you and their place in your circle changes as a result.
Risk being seen
Something happens deep inside you when you are truly seen by another person. There is a witness to your essence that causes your soul to exhale into a place of safety.
But feeling the pressure to always have it together makes it easy to armor up as a woman leader. Being vulnerable doesn’t feel like an option because others will judge you as less than if you share your fears or your insecurities.
The problem is without being vulnerable, you will never be truly seen and if you are never seen, you will never know the experience of having another affirm your person, independent of your title or role.
You have to be willing to risk being vulnerable with, at least, the people in your inner circle if you’re going to experience leadership in a different way.
Be intentional to cultivate those relationships
This shift away from leadership being lonely won’t happen simply because you want it to happen. You have to be intentional. This starts with being grounded in your own inherent worth. As you hold your own value and worth securely, you can more easily open up to new connections.
You can continue to buy into the idea that if you’re a leader then loneliness is inevitable or you can choose to actively look for ways to develop relationships with others including other women leaders.
To help you in that journey I am starting to offer small group coaching specifically for women leaders. These groups, called Athena Circles, are intentionally kept small to help cultivate a landscape of support and care that is often not available to women leaders. You are usually giving the support and care; in Athena Circles you get to receive support and care.
My desire for our community here is to provide a safe place for you to succeed as both a woman and as a leader. Athena Circles is another layer in that support. You can click here to learn more.
Here’s to you rising into your greatness!
From my heart to yours always,
Rise Into YOUR Greatness
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