Who Checks on the Leaders?

Guest Blogger: Amie Reynolds

 

Image of a hand holding a clock

It was 8:30 at night and my phone rang.  I was honestly about to lie down to relax and almost ignored it, but I knew something was up, I could feel it.  It was one of my younger Officers.  He said a Soldier had committed suicide in the building next door and CID wanted us to do the death packet.  I thought to myself, we’ve never done a death packet.  What does this mean exactly?  I told him I would be right there, I hung up the phone, put my shoes back on, and ran the mile to get there. 

I finally got back to my room around 3 AM, still in shock about what I had just seen and what transpired.  As I got ready for bed, I couldn’t shake the feeling of worry about my guys.  I didn’t know how they were going to react to this, how they were going to be the next day.  The truth was, some were fine, others were not.  I spent the next week spending time with those that needed to talk, to grieve, to try to understand what happened.  6 days in, I laid down in my bed, exhausted from the week.  I finally felt a rush of emotions and wondered, who checks on me?

There is much debate centered around leaders and whether they are born or learned.  There is one thing I know for certain, true leaders are selfless.  It is not hard to find those people among us, those that put the needs of others before their own.  But I can’t help to think about the saying, it is lonely at the top.  Because the truth is, it can be extremely lonely.  You often hide your emotions for the good of the group.  It can be difficult to find an outlet or a place to feel safe to share how you feel.   Resiliency becomes a key component to the success of a leader.  Being able to absorb all the thoughts and emotions of your team, process them, and provide exactly what your team needs, requires you to be mentally strong.

But how can we become resilient while avoiding being “lonely at the top?” 

1. Openness

Gone are the days of the leader creating a barrier of separation, retreating to their office.  Open communication and open doors are the norm.  In my experience, it is reasonable for the leader to show a little vulnerability, to open and show more of who they truly are.  This builds teams and brings people closer together.  It gives the leader more credibility and a more credible leader tends to turn the ship faster than one without much credibility.  

 

2. Read and Write

Many successful leaders are also skilled writers.  They use this as an outlet to reflect on their experiences and explain them in words.  Great leaders are also prolific readers.  Reading can open minds and present new and engaging concepts without the leader needing first-hand experience.  The practice of leadership journaling allows one to be more attentive to their experiences.  When coupled with reading, leaders can truly work to enhance their leadership skills and seek the resiliency they need.

 

3. Share

Find other leaders and share with them.  Share it all, the good and the bad.  Maybe they are leaders in other industries or leaders of other teams within your organization.  Maybe you meet in person or in the digital space.  The point is, meet and share.  The combined experiences of that group will better solve a problem than you will alone.  And often you will find others have the same struggles, and you will feel a sense of peace.

Finding your outlet as a leader is key.  These three tips have been vital to helping me get through difficult situations with my teams.   Consistency is key, so stick with it and you too will find it doesn’t need to be so lonely at the top.  

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