BridgeLite Blog

Leaders – Don’t Swim Alone!
February 14, 2012

BridgeLite Consulting

Human Beings are made to be in relationships. Sure, there are times when being a “Grizzly Adams” seems appealing.

When a project isn’t going as planned and there seems to be an extra supply of critics on hand to comment.

When a “significant other” acts like they are more significant than you think warrants significance at the present moment.

When a day is just not going the way you anticipated or planned.

Hanging out in a mountain cabin all alone can sound pretty appealing. But it doesn’t last.

Why? People are designed to be with people. And that’s the difficult part sometimes. Working side by side, team by team, to make something happen requires people. People united in purpose to make a difference.

Let’s face it, some days, being with those people, those challenging, grating, different-than-we-are people is just plain hard. For all of us. And for those in leadership? No hall passes granted to not be with people.

Leaders without people with them – well, aren’t leading. Aren’t participating. Being with people-that is the job.

Leaders can get stuck when they forget this fact for longer than one bad day. When leaders get stuck, and find themselves alone, three key factors as to why it happened emerge:

1. Focus

Somewhere they lost focus that the ideas and challenges they championed, were for others. They ran ahead too far and left the people behind. The idea became more important than the people it was to benefit.

2.  Arrogance

They were arrogant. “I can do this – I am in charge!” You know the type. ¬†Arrogance doesn’t create space for participation. It took awhile before they noticed people had drifted away. Once they noticed they were alone – couldn’t figure out why.


Too scared to ask for help. Forgot to be human. Pat Lencioni, author of Five Dysfunctions of a Team coined this need – “vulnerability based trust.” People, teams, leaders – all of us need to be in a safe enough space to be authentically who we are.

As a leader, are you feeling isolated, not heard, not understood? Perhaps you are swimming alone. No person can do it alone. It’s silly that somehow we ever thought we had to.

If you find yourself tired, worn out, frustrated or discouraged, chances are you have fallen into one of the traps above and are swimming alone. The good news is you don’t have to keep it up. You can stop. Right now.

Find a team, a like minded group, a colleague or subordinate. Title and position are irrelevant. Find a buddy to swim with you and watch the joy return. You can do it. After all, we are all human and are designed to be with each other.