7 Ways to Be a Leader Without Feeling Alone

It can be lonely at the top, but you don’t have to feel alone. Women leaders in particular experience high levels of isolation as they climb the career ladder. There aren’t as many women leaders as men, so there is a natural thinning of a supportive crowd. This is complicated by pressures – perceived or real – to not show weakness, to have it all together, and to keep their problems to themselves so they retain the spot they worked so hard to get. If this sounds like you, try these seven strategies to keep you feeling surrounded by a support squad.

1. Remember the 3 empathies. In many leadership approaches, empathy for others is highly prioritized. This is great, but it’s incomplete. A sole or over-emphasis on empathy for others ignores the other two empathies required in successful workplaces: empathy for the organization and empathy for yourself. Balancing empathy for teammates, customers, and management with empathy not just for the organization but for yourself as well will help you maintain an important perspective on how to prioritize your actions. When you put yourself back into that equation,  you’re less likely to wind up feeling alone.

2. Establish a relationship with a mentor or coach (or both!) outside of your workplace. Having someone in your corner who is there to intentionally support you but is disconnected from your day-to-day work is critical. You can and should still have your internal support people, but having a mentor or coach will provide you with regular access to a supportive outlet. Especially on the days when you feel like no one understands, you’ll be reminded you’re not as unassisted as you might feel.

3. Stay fueled. You’re more likely to feel isolated when you are depleted. Practice conscious refueling of your body as well as your energy. When a child is hungry, it’s almost impossible for them to do anything else well until that need has been met. You and your spirit are no different!

4. Build in support before you need it. The time to establish support systems is before you enter crisis mode and before you’re looking around wondering if anyone is out there and if anyone cares. Have current you do future you a favor by building in structures that will provide support before you feel like you need to ask for it. Regular check-ins with friends, scheduled professional development opportunities, or a cadence of meetings with peers or leaders who have been in your situation will serve as preventive, loneliness-banishing practices.

5. Remember who you are outside of work and consciously act accordingly. You are more than your job, but it’s easy to lose sight of that if your primary time and energy investments are work-related. Intentional actions outside the workplace that remind you that you are more than your title will keep you grounded as well as fueled.  

6. Monitor your inner monologue. The majority of the thoughts we think in a day are both negative and repetitive. Make sure your internal conversation is kind and supportive. Rewire your thoughts, journal it out, or share with a mentor, coach, or friend what you’re thinking so you can make sure you’re not applying meaning where it doesn’t belong. It’s hard work but worth the effort.

7. Practice professional pit stops. In auto racing, pit stops serve as a chance to refuel, repair, and re-evaluate strategy. There’s a whole team of folks who help the driver! Going too long without your own pit stop is more likely to leave you feeling like your on your own. Regular pauses to reorient yourself will help you go farther faster.


Leadership and loneliness don’t have to go hand in hand. Deliberate practices like these seven strategies will help you feel connected rather than isolated. What else becomes possible for you when you feel supported instead of separated?



Nicole Lance is living her boldest, most fiercely free life and loves helping her clients do the same. Leaving a 13-year career to launch her business with a newborn still at home, she now speaks and facilitates across North America. When she’s not writing or working with clients, Nicole is busy trying not to step on the Lego bricks her daughter leaves hidden in the carpet. Learn more at www.nicolelance.co

5/22/2024 4:47:41 PM
Nicole Lance
Written by Nicole Lance

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