Lonely at the top? Sometimes.

By Gary Kinzel

Gary Kinzel is a Hilton Head resident with 30+ years of experience in marketing and advertising communications. He is the former CEO of his own agency (now Vistage Peer Advisory Group) and is the Vistage chairman for the Savannah/Hilton Head/Beaufort area. Reach him at gary.kinzel@vistagechair.com.

Here’s the situation. You’ve called a meeting with your whole team: your partner; C-level staffers; legal and financial advisors; and maybe even an outside consulting expert or business coach. You have a big decision to make that could alter the direction of your entire company, and you want the very best advice you can get.

However, as you look around, you realize everyone at this meeting needs or wants something from you. A salary. A fee. Contract renewal or project commitment. Will you truly get unbiased advice? Or will they just say what they THINK you want to hear? Should you share your uncertainty about this? Would that undermine their confidence in you as a leader? 

All CEOs, presidents and business leaders have been in situations like this and usually wind up making decisions alone, in total isolation. It’s lonely at the top. But it doesn’t have to be.

Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, said, “No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy if you’re playing the solo game, you’ll always lose to a team.” So where can you get unbiased input from experienced people you respect and whose only motivation is to help you succeed? You must find peers. 

Build relationships with other successful business owners and CEOs from outside your company’s vertical, a place where you can be yourself and get advice. Search local business organizations, charity boards of directors, clubs, golf or fishing partners, b2b social media, business periodical publishers or fast-track with a proven, confidential, peer advisory group like Vistage.


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