If It’s Lonely at the Top, You’re Not Doing Something Right


John Maxwell says that if it’s lonely at the top, you’re not doing something right. I agree. Old-timey leaders keep their distance. They lead with a frown, and manage their humble subjects. Most of their communication is one-directional—from the leader to underling. They grow their productivity by pushing and scolding. They convey, “I’m up here. You’re down there.”

Enlightened leaders grow productivity by growing their team members. They lead their people to the top. Taking personal interest in their teams, they create a climate of greater initiative and self-starting. They communicate, “Let’s go to the top together.”

Titles don’t make leaders. Influence does. You can influence your team WANT to improve, to grow, and to perform.

Do you regularly walk slowly through the halls, observing, and making yourself available? If you do you make yourself accessible. You can see who is challenged, under-challenged, or over-challenged. You can see who helps whom. You can reduce the frustrating drop-in visits at the wrong time. Your team members know that you’ll be around, so they’ll take care of most of their business with you during your little trips around the workplace.

Do you have people with leadership potential? Do you groom, grow, train, and give leadership opportunities to them? If you do, they get motivated. They may rise to the occasion and join you in influencing the others. You can even attend training, conferences, and meetings without receiving phone calls and text messages every few minutes, because your leader trainees can handle many of the issues that arise in your absence.

If you are leading rather than managing, you’re not lonely at all.

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