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Don’t Be an Island, Be a Community

“Good leaders know when to follow and when to lead." ~ Bob Proctor, Author & Business Coach  

Recently I spent time in Las Vegas with nearly 200 amazing entrepreneurs and business leaders at a conference led by powerful business coach David Neagle.  And, throughout his teaching he quoted Bob Proctor several times, crediting Proctor as his own mentor and teacher.

“It’s lonely at the top.”  I heard a former boss utter that one day and it left me cold.  But, it got me thinking recently about where that sentiment came from and if it is indeed true.  Was the person who first coined that phrase a good leader?  Does someone with that frame of mind create a moat around themselves, isolating themselves from further growth and therefore from creating a greater impact as a Alone-island leader?

In today’s most effective business language, that of being transparent and partner-minded, the second you think you’re the master of all masters or the singular top of the heap you’ve ceased learning and mostly likely aren’t nearly as effective as you think you are.

The most effective leaders know their own strengths and weaknesses and are confident in reaching out to others whose strengths mirror their own weaknesses.  In other words, they surround themselves with others they can learn from so instead of positioning themselves alone on an island, they are part of a thought-leader community that catapults their leadership value in a meaningful way.
Here are some ways to continue to grow as leaders in your fields:

  • Form a Mastermind Group – meet regularly with like-minded yet complimentary thinkers who will challenge your point of view and offer mind-expanding ideas.  Napoleon Hill in his book “Think and Grow Rich” initiated the concept of the Mastermind principle.  He defined a Mastermind as, “The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose…No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind."  I’ve been a part of a Mastermind Group mindset and it’s very powerful.  Here’s a great article on forming a strong Mastermind Group.
  • Develop a team of Advisers – choose people who have been your supporters in the past, who have followed your career and who have skills and knowledge that you lack.  Keep an ongoing relationship with your Advisers, giving them a vested interest in your successes that they “helped” you reach.
  • Find a mentor – someone who is further along than you in your field, someone you greatly admire.  Many of the most successful leaders, especially those at the top of their game, have had mentors along the way who have championed their growth.  And, shoot for the top in looking for your right mentor.  You can find many guidelines on the internet about choosing the right mentor.
  • Hire a coach – find an expert in your field and put them on your own payroll.  They will keep you challenged in an impartial way, where your success is supported in a way that isn’t attached to ego which can sometimes happen in business circles where people might have their own agenda around being associated with you.
  • Be well-rounded – by exploring your own passions you surround yourself by others who share with you your personal affinities, outside of your business life.  Take a class, join an expedition, and volunteer your time.  These communities will nurture you in a whole new way. 

So, remember, don’t be an island as a leader; be a community as a leader.  The best leaders follow other leaders.  And, recognize the mirror in the room, the one being held up for you to see yourself, and the mirror you hold up for others to see themselves.  Therein lies the place of wisdom, transparency, growth and true leadership.