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Is it lonely at the top? For most leaders, it is. But while it’s completely normal to feel lonely as you rise the ranks, you can take constructive action to manage it. — BTB #22 One on One

Behind the Billboard S1EP22

(0:00:00) Intro: Welcome to the Behind The Billboard podcast. Here’s your host, Kris Lindahl.

(0:00:06) KL: It’s lonely at the top. I remember hearing that statement throughout the and I couldn’t really get a grasp on what it meant until recently. I wanted to share this with you— leadership can be lonely. Especially as you climb the ranks, there aren’t as many people to talk to. You might have confidential things going on in your company or the department you work in that you can’t share with others. Some of those things might work out. Some never work out. You just don’t know. And now you have all this confidential information and as these things are happening, life shows up! Life shows up for other people that you’re leading, for their families, for their kids, for their grandparents, for their parents… Life can be ugly at times. A lot of times as leaders, we have to show up for those difficult times for the people that we lead in our organizations and in our departments. And I wanted to share just a little bit today about some of things that I’ve done and experienced in my time in leadership. I’ve been through a lot of the things that you’re going through and by no means do I have it figured out. I’m still learning every single day. But I can tell you that there are a lot of moments as you climb the ladder in your career where you’re going to feel lonely. I’m going to share a few tips that I’ve done and I’m trying to do actively as you listen today that have helped me with some of this loneliness and I’ve grown our company and as I’ve grown my personal brand. I don’t have as many close friends as I once did. It gets to be more lonely the higher you get. You have people that are taking shots at you. The more you put yourself out there, the bigger of a target you are. Everyone has an opinion of who you are. You always have to be “on” when you’re in public. When you get home and you just sort of shut down. It’ a lot being a leader. I want to share some of the things that I’ve done that I hope you can find helpful.

Number one is… you have to read. The more you educate yourself… them ore that you put into your brain… You also start to learn that a lot of other people go through this progression to become better and become a better leader. We’re not alone. There are a lot of others that are doing this. I like to read a lot. Podcasts. You’re listening to this podcast so I’d like to congratulate you for listening and absorbing the content we put out. We’ve been fortunate enough to interview a lot of really successful leaders that not only share their success but they also share their struggles. I listen to a lot podcasts. I get a lot of information there. I think everyone should have at least one mentor. Multiple mentors would the preferable route. Just have people that have been through some of the struggles that your’e going through. Or maybe they align similarly to who you are or your core values or what you believe in. Having those people that you can bounce things off of. I think about the big decisions that we have to make in our organization on a daily basis. I have those people where I can bounce ideas off of because I haven’t always lived some of these decisions that I have to make. It’s nice to have people that have been through some of these things. Event hough that they might not be in my industry, a lot of the challenges are still the same and there is some predictability to the decision that we make as leaders. I think of a GM that runs a sports team. I think about the decisions that they have to make. Or the trades hat they have to make. Or not signing that contract. Or on the flip side, signing that career long contract with that elite athlete who’s in their prime. But they sign ten- year contract and what happens if after the sixth year they decline, and the fan base isn’t happy that the GM made that decision. Now the GM is on the chopping block because they made that decision. The fans sort of have amnesia because the first six years turned around the organization. Maybe they won a championship.. Maybe they were competitive enough to get to that final game but maybe they weren’t able to close the loop. Maybe they won the championship!

We forget so fast that we get amnesia so often that we’re really concerned the now. I think about the GM that makes those decisions, they’re under fire every single day— just as we are— as a leader. I think about the decisions that they have to make.

Recently, one of the players for a professional hockey team locally and they were, when I say “they” I mean they were husband and wife. She was in labor and they got the cal that he had been traded. Imagine being in that situation as a GM. It was the trade deadline. That was the day. They traded him while his wife was in labor. That’s business. It’s tough. It’s messy. Life shows up. We have those challenges and we have those decisions we have to make as leaders where we have someone that may or may not be in labor, but in a tough situation… maybe someone is no longer a culture fit. Maybe they’ve outgrown the organization. Maybe they did something that we just don’t believe in. Those are tough conversations that we have to have. Maybe we have a strategy in place. Or maybe have a launch of a product or a service or an idea that we can’t share with anyone. When we were not in this leadership role, we were able to share it and have conversations with our colleagues about speculating on what was next or what the company should do or where we should go. And now, we have these ideas or were privy to these conversations that where we can’t share. SO we have this sensitive information and at night we go home with these big ideas that may or may not work. May never even be launched but now e have these things that are happening and we can’t share that with others. We have others that are asking us questions. “What’s going on with this? What’s goin on with that?” We can’t share those things. I wanted to let you know that if your’e feeling a bit lonely, you’re not alone. Most people that go through the leadership ladder, you’re going to have some loneliness. But what I wanted to share with you is that just because you’re lonely doesn’t necessarily mean you’re depressed. If you’re thinking that you have some depression, I would highly recommend to go see a medical professional and get some help if you think that’s what’s needed or some therapy. But I bring that up because I go through my moments now or real extreme loneliness where people wouldn’t really understand because they go, “Well Kris is all over the place. He’s connected to so many people. He’s built so many relationships.”

Yes. That’s correct. I have, but there’s also moments where I get home and I can’t share with anyone. I can’t share what’s happening. I’m so excited about

what’s about to happen but because of confidentiality or because it’s sensitive information or because of the impact it’s going to have to our industry or our company or family, it’s not the right time to release the information. There are so many critical decisions that we have to make and. Lot of the times we’re holding that information in and we don’t have others to share it with. That’s where you have to have some mentors that really honor confidentiality and where you can really get some advice as you go through the ranks of your leadership journey.

When I share that information and when I talk about loneliness, I know it probably scares you but I wanted to share this today with you because I know some of you need to hear it. When I was a super successful real estate agent, I was doing really well and I wasn’t in a leadership position. I really didn’t have any focus on personal development or growing as a person. I really didn’t have the loneliness. It was just so different then. And now, I wouldn’t change where I’m at for anything in the world, but I will tell you that there are times where I feel lonely. I want to share that with you because I think it’s important to remember that this journey has ups and downs. Just because you’re a leader doesn’t mean that everything has to be put together, that you have to be perfect. Having mentors and identifying some friends that are in similar roles to yours. Maybe they’re on the same journey that you are! Those things can make such a huge difference to have people to talk to who understand the struggles that you’re going through. So that you have people that can actually relate and say, “You know what? I know what that’s like. I’ve been there. Maybe I’m in that pain right now. I’m in that growth stage.”

Having people that you can really just reach out to and share with because I can tell you, and you’ve heard the different quotes and the different things over time that you’re the sum of the five people that you spend the most time with, and I mean that’s absolutely true. The more people that you spend your time with that are doing things that are similar to you, I think you’re going to a result of those people you spend your time with.

The other part to that to is, when we’re in a leadership role, we’re servants. We’re serving other people… other people’s needs. Like I said earlier, life shows up. When you’re serving other people, you tend to put others’ needs first. When you put those first you can start to forget about your life. Your family. Your needs. That’s where we can really start to get lonely because we’re putting everyone else and everything else first. As we grow as leaders, we tend to serve. I we’re a really successful leader, it’s really that servant leadership. I’ve talked about this in previous podcast episodes, and some of my guest have as well. It’s that “bottom- up” leadership.

“Bottom-Up” where we’re boots on the ground, right there next to you. We’re going to learn together. We’re going to get our hands dirty. We’re going to solve this. When you’re bottom-up leadership, when you’re on ground level, servant style, I’m telling you right now, you’re going to give so much during the day— I get that they’re might be different hours for your position or your leadership opportunity— but typically speaking, during the day you’re going to serve all day. And then at night, you’re going to need to recharge. That’s where I really find time to read and to listen to podcasts and really just learn from others that have done a lot of this already because as much as things have changed, they’ve stayed the same.

We’re still human beings. It’s still leadership. We’re still connecting with humans. We’re still leading humans. Life is still showing up. There are health scares. There are health challenges. There are relationship challenges. There are financial, economic challenges. All fo these things show up the more people come into an organization. Like I said earlier, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. We have the best human beings in our company in the entire world. I love everyone in our organization and I love their families. Every day that I wake up, I know that when Kris Lindahl is on stage, I have every person in my company counting on me. I have their families counting on me, it includes their kids, their grandkids, their future. Everyone is counting on every single decision that I make. That’s pressure. That’s real life pressure. When you have that pressure, when you start to shut it off, you start to have a little bit of loneliness. Really try to dial in and try

to figure out what gets you to recharge. What are you passionate about? When you get home, what are you going to read? What are you going to listen to? Everyone has their different way of doing things. For you it might be something completely unrelated to leadership. But for someone else, it might be leadership related.

For me, I want to become the best communicator and the best leader in the world. So I want as much information regarding those things as possible. But for you, maybe you enjoy comedy or you want something on a light note as night or on the weekends or when you start you day that’s maybe funny. Everyone is different.

I just want to let you know that loneliness is totally part of leadership. If you’re starting to experience some of that, just know that you’re on the right path. I go through my ups and downs just like everyone else does and I know we have a tendency to put everyone else on a platter and say, “It looks like they have it all figured out. Everything is right.”

I’m telling you, they don’t. They don’t have it figured out. Everyone goes through their ups and downs and struggles. We’re all learning together. If you have the loneliness feelings or you’ve been lonely at times, you’re on the right path. You’re going the right direction. You’ll be okay. If not need someone to talk to or you have questions, you can always reach out to me. Send me a message on the Behind The Billboard Facebook page. I always personally respond to them. I’m here for you. This journey isn’t meant to be one that you go at alone.

Just make sure to surround yourself and you have the right leadership team and the right leaders that step up and support you and support the organization and support the families that are a part of your organization. All of you together can make that difference, but if you’re an effective leader that’s serving at the highest level, you’re going to have some loneliness.

So I wanted to share with you today… You’re normal! That’s the good news! Thanks for tuning in to Behind The Billboard. Loneliness in leadership go hand- in-hand.

(0:13:10) Outro: If you loved this episode, give us a great review, subscribe and share us socially so we can spread the word and build a community of “difference-makers” and if there’s a leader who inspires you, send your suggestions for future guests to Kris’ team at so we can get better.