Are you lonely?

Nov 13, 2017

If you’re looking around but not seeing many people like you, try Zweig Group’s new 2018 seminar, CEO Roundtable. Click here for more information.

We hear it all the time: “It’s lonely at the top.” The farther you move up the pyramid, the fewer the peers you’ll find there, but it doesn’t have to be lonely.

Leadership loneliness is just a state of mind, because there really are others out there just like you. You just have to look for them.

During a conference I attended a few of years ago, the presenter asked the audience of a couple hundred business executives to count the number of people they had in their professional circle. These were the people you could rely upon for unfettered advice and counsel.

The audience was asked to raise their hand if they had one personal advisor. Nearly every hand went into the air. Three advisors? More than half of the hands dropped. Five? Ten advisors? Out of the 250 or so people in the room, only two hands remained.

As we progress up the leadership ladder, it becomes increasingly critical that we maintain a group of peers we can turn to for advice. The larger our group, the broader the expertise we can rely upon.

So where do you find those peers who understand what you’re going through, regardless of your level within your company?

  • Network at industry events. Take advantage of more than just the agenda at an industry conference. If you normally sit with people from your firm during the lunch, try joining a table of strangers. During the breaks, ask a friend to introduce you to two people. You’ll exponentially grow your network and may find a connection with someone with a similar background, hobbies, or experience.
  • Another tip for industry events: Load your pockets with business cards. To some people they’re old-fashioned, but there’s nothing like having a stack of cards on your desk that you can thumb through and be reminded of the people you’ve met.
  • Cold call industry peers. While this may take you well outside your comfort zone, it can be an incredibly effective approach. If you’re feeling like you’re alone on your own island, it’s very likely there are dozens of others feeling the same sense of loneliness. Reach out to them. Pick up the phone and introduce yourself. Talk about the leadership challenges you’re facing. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn many of your peers are experiencing similar challenges. Perhaps they have already built a peer group and you would be a welcomed addition.
  • Participate in local business social events. Attend local chamber, civic, or charity events in your area. Introduce yourself to others at different leadership levels than yours. It’s a great way to introduce others to your amazing company, so ensure you have your “elevator speech” ready to go.

Zweig Group is introducing a new program in 2018 specifically designed to connect AEC senior executives. CEO Roundtable will address the challenges of leading a firm and will provide ample opportunity to share and discuss issues facing you and like-minded peers. As an added feature, we’re going to connect the event with a tour of a local destination – perhaps a libation production facility – to encourage social networking.

In the meantime, if you’re feeling the need to connect with someone who knows what you’re going through, give us a call. We’ve been in your shoes.

Bill Murphey is Zweig Group’s director of education. Contact him at

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About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.