In Business Coaching, Coaching, Leadership and Management Development, Leadership Coaching

The COVID-19 Effect

– Leaving Leaders Lonelier Than Ever Before

Time To Unleash Your Super Powers

Loneliness is not what one is aiming for when setting off on the trajectory of leadership. Being the Boss doesn’t necessarily refer to a corporate role. Leaders come in many guises, seniority, environments and forms from Parents to Teachers, Medical Staff, Kids and Executives. This time, our conversation starts with a CEO.

The discussion leant toward reasons and motivators for getting out of bed to do what we do. Some of the usual suspects from competition edge, securing new revenue streams, developing a strategy for the next phase of growth, NPD, EBIT, service/product delivery, governance, operations, employee performance, development for their people and relationships. These thoughts are ever-present now with the ‘season’ we’re working through, laying heavy on the shoulders of leaders more now than ever before.

Being lonely at the top isn’t a new topic; it’s in the Top 5 of the most discussed with clients in leadership positions.
What’s presenting itself more frequently is the relationship and wellbeing of employees piece in conversations across all levels of management, which is excellent for many reasons.

While the CEO relayed their thoughts, I noticed an absence of their needs, it made me wonder:

1. Where are Leaders in this conversation?

2. Where are they ‘at’ in a mind’s eye?

3. What support do they feel they need now and going forward?



Outside looking in, a leader has it all, power, authority, success, font of all knowledge, busy, untouchable, senior, strong, independent, focussed, risktaker and not forgetting handsomely paid. Plus an overflowing toolbox with the tricks of the trade firmly down pat. All probably true, yet somehow, the feeling of loneliness exists. What’s missing, if anything? Superpowers. In hard times the phrase ‘dig deep’ is often used. So let’s find and lean into your She-Hulk, Blackpanther, Spiderman or the superhero who possesses the power you need.

At this point in our chat, high performing athletes entered as an analogy. What transpired is leaders like athletes need to train and develop their superpowers continually; leaning into strengths and developing areas of support while empowering teams to do the same. Building a culture where superpowers provide the agility to flex, shape and mould to change: new surroundings, environments, teammates, rules, management, ways of working, products and services, delivery mechanisms and new mindsets. The ability to work within the unknown takes more than a leader to implement the new game plan. Every team member (player) on the pitch is there because of their superpower, their ability to contribute, so make it count.



– Achiever. Arranger. Belief.

– Consistency. Deliberative. Discipline.

– Focus. Responsibility. Restorative.

– Activator. Command. Communication.

– Competition. Maximizer. Self-Assurance.

– Significance. Relevance.

– Adaptability. Developer. Connectedness.

– Empathy. Harmony. Includer.



Let’s talk emotions after all EI is one of the most sought-after attributes when attracting and retaining talent. So why is it emotions are the elephant in the room, or worse still, the elephant that lives within us?

According to research, there are either four, six or twenty-seven basic human emotions depending on which study you follow. It’s fair to say feelings exist in the office – happy, sad, mad, surprise, empathy, desire, excitement, disgust, despair, fear and confusion in varying degrees. However, the one most keep at bay is vulnerability. An emotion viewed as a sign of weakness because it doesn’t sit pretty with the expectation or perception one holds of a leader or even what the leader perception of a leader.

Vulnerability is the standout, the special one, as it possesses a subset of emotions; physical, social, economic and attitudinal so you can pick a flavour that suits the situation and or environment at any given time and use it as a shield to protect oneself. Or worse still, fall in with it or be smothered by the real villain of the pack who sits side by side with vulnerability, fear. It’s the underlying emotion dictating behaviour. It’s complicated, but that’s emotions for you, nothing vanilla flavoured here.

The bad boy of the pack affects just about everything from self-confidence, self-esteem, performance, decision making, relationships, to name a few and ultimately culture and environment. To be fair, there’s a lot to be fearful about at the moment. That’s why superpowers are critical, here’s a few more to consider.

#Courage #Bravery #Transparency #Speed #Resilience #Heart #Strategy



The world is telling us that we’re over the initial state of panic of this virus, but not it’s destruction or disruption. Economic and health professionals state there’s a long way to go, how we need to prepare ourselves for the reality of no return to what was normal just a few short months ago. However, human nature is inclined to focus on the negative and the need to reframe this thinking, our mindset is vital. No need to claim the future reality as a negative, just an ‘as is’. Another challenge to overcome as many before albeit not on this scale. Why not start with yourself:

1. What behaviours am I displaying?

2. What is the impact of my behaviours?

3. What would I like to see?

4. How do I want to be perceived?

5. Why is that important?

6. What can I change immediately to work toward achieving my objective?

7. Who in the team has complimentary skills for the task ahead?

8. What else can I do?

Observing a leader’s interactions, engagement style, behaviour, sets the pace and rhythm for the rest of the business. Again ask yourself, reflect and process:

1. What does this mean to your company?

2. What does it mean for your teams?

3. What does it mean for your clients?

These questions will provide access to the HOW.

If you’re still unable to see the woods from the trees, then take action to support your thinking and gain the clarity needed to move forward.


Food for thought

2001 study by Manchester Inc. showed that businesses who employed a coach saw an average return on their investment of 5.7 times the amount that they paid for the coaching services.

A report conducted by the Personnel Management Association showed that executives who received both coaching and training were able to increase their productivity by 86% compared to a 22% increase in productivity by executives who received training alone.

A Hay Group study showed that 40% of Fortune 500 companies make use of business coaching to train and develop their executives

A study conducted by MetrixGlobal LLC showed that businesses who paid for coaching saw a $7.90 return for every $1.00 spent on those services.

53% of business owners and executives report that it increased their productivity.

61% of owners report that it increased their job satisfaction

23% of executives report that business coaching helped them reduce operational costs

22% of companies report that business coaching increased their profitability

67% of business owners and executives report that business coaching increased their teamwork skills within their business



Why let years of hard work, dedication, commitment, not forgetting what people don’t see on your arduous journey to leadership. The compromise, struggle, risk, late nights, doubts, mistakes all contributing to your success. Don’t allow fear or vulnerability lead to isolation and dampen creativity and innovation or hold you back and remove the human connection between self and others hold you back, particularly in this pandemic.

My contribution to this conversation is, I haven’t met a leader yet who has worked their way up the ladder without building relationships. If you’re at the top of your game, take a look back at your journey. Somewhere in there, you’ll see yourself building relationships, business acquaintances, acquiring a network, making friends that started as colleagues and looking after yourself with a sanity cycle, run, pilates, meditation, cooking, your family. Now fast forward to where you are today and ask yourself:

1. How am I looking after myself?

2. What more can I do?

3. What’s the impact on the broader business if I’m not at my best?

4. How important is this to me?

5. How does this relate to my relationships and my work within the business?

6. What can I do to support the change I want to see?

7. Who can support me in this change?


If you decide a relationship with yourself or others isn’t necessary as a leader, you have the answer and the reality as to why it’s lonely at the top. Although I doubt that’s what anyone wants, it’s not at the core of basic human needs. I like to think a simple action is what’s needed to rectify a habit that has fallen to the wayside and recognition of your own needs as a priority.

Revisit the toolbox where the once well-oiled tools called wellbeing and connecting is rusting due to other business distractions. Take it out, polish it up, and with a bit of use, it will be as good as new, probably in better nick than ever before.

Sometimes when we think or feel a situation is out of our control, or the dependency lies elsewhere, it’s at this point we need to see ourselves in the situation.

Leaders don’t have to be lonely at the top; sometimes we’re our own worst enemy, don’t be.

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