By Mindy Mackenzie
Celine Dion singing “All By Myself” is one of the great clips on YouTube of all time. [Click here for a little spine-tingling inspiration.]
But as Celine sings about how she doesn’t want to be all by herself I can’t help but think about the CEOs and executives I advise who feel exactly the same.
Being a senior business leader can be a notoriously lonely place. But all the successful people in business I know have a group of advisors they rely on and most have had this group for many, many years.
Why? Because going it alone in business is a bad proposition.
You need what I call a personal pit crew: a handful of trusted, credible people who can give you insight, advice, counsel, and painful feedback, when you need it. This is a crew committed to your success in your business and personal life. And while these folks may have started out in a more advisory capacity, they ultimately become dear and lifelong friends.
Here’s the painful truth: the more senior you get the less the people around you will tell you the truth. Messages start to get managed. All your ideas begin to get agreed with –enthusiastically. Those around you are more careful in handling you because they want or need something from you. As the parable of the nude emperor indicates, the process that resulted in him traipsing around town in his birthday suit did not occur in a day.
It is these very factors that successful people are aware of. Because they are self aware. Which gets increasingly difficult the more powerful and successful you become. Friends by their very definition are people who love you in spite of yourself. For who you are inside and out. Not just for your public personae.
There’s another aspect to why successful people in business lean on their friends: they are smart enough to know they don’t have all the answers. They know they need a fresh perspective or a challenging point of view. And they crave and value that degree of truth.
Finally, at the end of the day, the friends and advisors who have known and supported your journey the longest are also your biggest cheering squad. They know from whence you came and are proud of all you have accomplished and their part in being able to help you get there.
They have observed firsthand the growth and evolution. They know the struggles, insecurities, fears, failures and flops. They are truly your pit crew.
Like all successful business leaders, you need an external group of people committed to your success in your work and your life.
Here’s how to put your personal pit crew together:
- Have the right mindset by being willing to lower your guard, be vulnerable and ask for help.
- Identify people you trust and whom you respect and admire for their competence and character.
- Invest the time necessary to cultivate deep, lasting, open relationships. Reciprocate the support and remember to express gratitude.
There is no need for you to be all by yourself in business any more!
About the Author:
Mindy Mackenzie is an accomplished corporate executive, a highly acclaimed speaker, and CEO advisor. Before starting her advisory practice, Mindy served as Chief Performance Officer of Beam, Inc., where she earned the nickname of the “Velvet Hammer.” She was revered for being the truth teller amongst the executive team by exhibiting a bold combination of honesty and empathy. Her impressive career also includes five years at Campbell Soup Co, where she lived and worked overseas, and nine years at Wal-Mart, where she advanced through various Senior Leadership HR and Organizational Development roles. An expert on truth telling in the workplace, her expertise includes leadership and organizational effectiveness, transformational change, culture, and strategy. Mindy is the author of The Courage Solution: The Power of Truth Telling with Your Boss, Peers, and Team (Greenleaf Book Group, May 3rd 2016). For further information please visit http://mindymackenzie.com/.