How To Stop Being Lonely As A Leader

One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from leaders is that leadership is lonely at the top. It’s a tough job and requires so much from the leader.

Just last year, the Harvard Business Review published an article on leadership loneliness. So, if you’re feeling alone as a leader, don’t despair. You’re not alone.

The friendship of Stormtroopers

Image by JD Hancock

There’s good news. You don’t have to be alone as a leader. There’s plenty of ways to find others of like minds and join forces with them.

It may be through a business venture or some other method, but I know you can find other leaders who need the friendship you so deeply long for.

Here’s my top three suggestions for beating the loneliness of a leader:

1. Find a MeetUp event in your city: If you haven’t discovered MeetUp yet, you need to head over and check it out. allows you to search your local area for a group you may be interested in joining. Many of these groups are informal yet meet for a specific purpose.

I’ve attended a few, including hosting a couple of the Seth Godin Icarus Session MeetUps. The people I’ve met through these group meetings have been amazing.

2. Attend a conference: Last month I attended the Catalyst Conference. While there I met people I would never have had the chance of meeting before.

It was great meeting Justin Wise, Chris Lautsbaugh, Paul Sohn, Paul Jolicouer, Josh Burno, and everyone else. The friendships made will carry on.

You can do the same thing. Find a local, or not so local as Catalyst was in my case, conference and make it a point to attend.

While the speakers will provide you with great information, don’t neglect the other leaders who are also attending the conference. They’ll be a great way to beat the loneliness.

3. Immerse yourself in a hobby: Have you ever met someone who was passionate about a hobby they were pursuing? When you did, they were probably enthusiastic to share their hobby with you.

Hobbies draw people together. Whether it’s the local radio controlled helicopter group, the book study that meets at Barnes and Nobles, or coffee loves unite, there’s hobbies and interests that can introduce you to great friends.

Don’t let leadership be the lonely trap so many others have let it be. You have the means to combat loneliness and have thriving, successful relationships.

Question: How have you beat loneliness as a leader? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Great points here Joe! It was great to meet up with you as well in Atlanta. Leadership can get lonely when we don’t give ourselves the space to have a social life. Events, conferences and a close circle of friends can fill that void.

    • Right Paul! It was great to finally meet you and get to know you a bit better. Wish we would have had more time to connect.

  • Joe Passkiewicz

    I think the reality is that relationships with people that you lead will never be the same as being one of the group. Example- When you walk up to a group of your team members who are talking and they all get quiet because the boss is here. The dynamics are just different. After the grieving process of this reality, I think the best way to foster strong relationships with you team is to “reach down” -extending your hand to individuals in your team to go deeper in relationship. If you are waiting for them to “reach up” I think it is much less likely to happen. Hanging out with other leaders is great but I believe that you still need to connect in a deeper way with the group that you do life with. Healthy authentic relationships. Thanks Joe for this post!

    • Joe, your reach down idea is interesting. I can see it forming stronger bonds and helping you actually build up new leadership. What’s one way you go deeper into relationship with your team?

      • Joe Passkiewicz

        By engaging our team about their lives not just their work. Providing a safe place where they can share their struggles, challenges and victories. By not being satisfied with the superficial.

  • Ironically I was just reading Chris LoCurto’s post today and this is my biggest struggle.

    I fight loneliness by allowing others to keep up with me. Not leaving them in my dust.

    As I said on his blog:

    I don’t mean that in an egotistical, “I’m faster than everyone else” way. But I tend to outpace everyone in a bad way.

    It causes 1 of 3 things:

    1. No one is with me and I go it alone.

    2. I get bored by myself and give up.

    3. I succeed and alienate those were taking their time.

    10 years ago I saw it as a positive. Now I see it for what it really is…impatience and selfishness.

    And it leads to severe loneliness out there.

    • I’ve seen others struggle in that same area Matt. With the determination to get where they want/need to go, leaders can be willing to leave others behind.

      How are you allowing others to keep up with you? Are there any specific action steps you’re taking so you can notice when you’re too far ahead?

      • I’m working on it and certainly don’t have any proven strategies.

        For me, it’s a mindset thing. I have to realize that when others lag or are reluctant, that at least half the time, it’s a sign that I need to slow down. It might be:

        -a bad idea
        -a good idea that needs more baking
        -a good idea with a missing ingredient that I need to wait on

        I used to be partners with a guy who was always “slowing me down.” It was annoying. In retrospect, I realized that he was also the guy who numerous times prevented us from spending our last $200,000 on a hairbrained idea. We thrived very quickly but slower than I wanted.

        In the end, I fought him on one big thing and it ruined us. Oops.

        Should have listened.

  • Great post Joe. Men’s groups at church is where I have formed my closest relationships. I think it gets lonely at the top because as leaders we can get so focused on our thing. Once I decided I would form relationships and make it a priority I have many friends. Keep up the good work!

    • Zech, that’s an excellent suggestion. Finding a men’s group at your church can breathe so much life into you. They can also form relationships were others have your back when you get into trouble.

  • Mastermind groups and accountability partners work well for me. It’s good to connect with like minded individuals who face the same challenges and have the same goals.

    • Both of those are fantastic ways to keep loneliness at bay Brandon.

  • One thing that helps me is reading my Bible and realizing that loneliness isn’t something new- many leaders in the Bible felt that way, but God is closer than a friend or brother!

    • It’s always good to be reminded we’re not the first to experience the issue, huh TC?

  • Leadership and loneliness do not need to go together. I’d add being intentional about finding a community (online or offline) is important. To stay connected with those around you. Great post!

    • Intentionality in our relationships is key to holding off loneliness Dan. Thanks for adding!