The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal

How can a manager fend off loneliness?

Acclr - Blog - How can a manager fend off loneliness

Would you like to break free of isolation? If you are a manager, business leader or entrepreneur, the leader in you may feel alone at the top. You’re responsible for objectives, strategies, decisions, team mobilization and conflict resolution. The Chamber’s team went through various articles and summarized the main points to support you in taking action.

Symptoms of managerial isolation

Half of business leaders feel isolated according to the Harvard Business Review. Studies have also proven that feeling isolated is harmful to physical and psychological health, hence the importance of getting help from reliable resources.

"Loneliness not only predicts and precipitates depression, but it also is related to impaired mental health and cognition [...] and it affects our self-esteem, confidence, and social self-image."

- Ami Rokach, Université York in Toronto (2012).
« Leadership and loneliness: A review ». Psychological Journal, 9(4), 133-152.

Feeling isolated can manifest in different ways. Notably by increased feelings of:

  1. Bearing all the responsibilities of your sector or company and lacking the ability to achieve objectives;
  2. Falling behind and stalling the development of your company or team;
  3. Thinking more intensely without being able to make good decisions that lead to progress;
  4. Getting overwhelmed and having to question your role or value within the company.

Here are some solutions to help relieve your loneliness and sort your thoughts.

The solution to isolation: speak to the right person

All of these symptoms disappear quickly once the manager in you realizes the one thing you’re missing: sharing your experience with someone who understands the situation. Friends, colleagues and life partners aren’t the right people for a business leader to speak with, especially if you’re in business with them.

The key to breaking free of loneliness is the support of a mentor, coach or other business leader, preferably one in your industry. They have to help you to think effectively, widen your perspective and take action.

Choosing your support

Mentorship

Mentorship is the most popular solution and has the greatest advantages. In entrepreneurship, seven mentored entrepreneurs out of ten make it past five years, compared to half for those who go it alone.1 There are several networks throughout the province, but the Entreprises Québec website suggests Réseau M and Sage mentoring. You can also check with your region’s SADC, which offers support programs for entrepreneurs.

Remember that your mentor is there to question you and share a perspective, not to make decisions for you. Choose your mentor carefully since you’ll be working together for at least six months. Don’t automatically choose the first person suggested to you. You need to be fully involved in the process.

Group of business leaders

The Groupement des chefs d’entreprise du Québec was founded in 1974 to help business leaders and entrepreneurs break free from isolation. This means that the issue was identified over 40 years ago. Leader clubs created by this organization are specifically selected by region and industry, ensuring an absence of competition among participants. These regular encounters are so effective that the concept has been used elsewhere in Canada, as well as in France, Belgium and Switzerland.

Entrepreneurship: events and training

Seminars, conferences, training and networking events are also popular ways of developing meaningful business connections and honing your leadership and entrepreneurial skills.

For example, if you’re an entrepreneur, the École d’Entrepreneurship de Beauce (EEB) offers a two-hour workshop titled “Résoudre des problématiques de chef : Briser l’isolement pour multiplier les solutions.” It is an excellent way to break the ice with 19 other entrepreneurs in the same situation and to expose yourself to concrete solutions that you can apply to your company.

Tips for countering isolation on a daily basis

Each day, feelings of isolation also depend on the social pressure that you experience. You have to project a strong and tireless image to your peers and subordinates. Your words and actions are carefully examined. Try the following to find balance between your work and social life:

  1. Choose to discuss non-work topics over lunch and aim to have meals with people who aren’t on your team;
  2. Go to other happy hours than just your company’s in order to speak openly with other leaders;
  3. Leave space in your weekly schedule to do a relaxing or stimulating activity: exercise, meditation, yoga or a project unrelated to your company;
  4. Open up to your employees about the challenges and issues you face so that they also feel involved. They might point you in the right direction.

 Remember that from time to time a moment of solitude is needed to take a step back, get centred, focus your vision and make good decisions. However, if you feel too isolated, start by participating in one of the activities organized by the Chamber. It’s one of the best places to connect with other business leaders in the city.

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