I have just been made head of the HR department in a large organisation and I’m finding it ‘lonely at the top’. I feel I have no-one to talk to internally. If I’m the boss, how can I ask for help from members of my team, on important decisions, without losing face?
Feeling lonely at the top is common among senior executives. Many feel they don’t have anyone to talk to internally. It could be that other senior executives in your organisation have similar fears and concerns, and they may be surprisingly receptive if you’re able to ‘test the water’ and raise the issue with them.
These feelings are often driven by a fear of being found out or of not being good enough for the role, which is usually rooted in lack of self-confidence.
Even though you are not alone in your thinking, it is important that you realise that a good manager can ask for help from their team and involve them in important decisions without feeling threatened or undermined. Your team provides you with support to ensure that important decisions are examined carefully and from different points of view.
For you to feel more comfortable, it may be necessary for you to:
understand what is the root cause of your discomfort in asking your team for help
consider how you feel about showing vulnerability
define what makes a good boss and ensure you develop the confidence to be one
get some feedback on your managing style.
I would also recommend seeking help from a coach or a mentor, so that you can understand the beliefs underpinning your feeling of isolation, develop the confidence to be yourself and become more self-aware.
Self-confidence is a state of mind. People who lack confidence often focus too much on their weaknesses. It is important to have a balanced perception, so undertake an honest assessment of your strengths and how they help you perform your role successfully.
A coach can help you shift your focus and develop more confidence, in a safe environment. A good tip to improve your confidence is to think about different times when you have felt confident in the past: what were you doing, thinking and feeling? How did it help you succeed in that situation?
By focusing on developing self-confidence and awareness – and by accepting your strengths and weaknesses – you can be a better manager, and confident enough to ask for help when needed without feeling exposed.
By Marielena Sabatier, executive coach and co-founder, Inspiring Potential
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