How to defeat lone wolf syndrome

When leaders fall or fade, losing their position and credibility, people often point to their mistakes. But before their mistakes came isolation. They were often surrounded by people, but distant from the truth. Here are three warning signs you’re becoming a lone wolf (followed by three solutions):

  1. The people in your circle of influence mostly agree.

If they all agree, most likely they all agree with you. Groups that look and sound the same are in danger of becoming a homogenous group. They’ll do more to protect their status than to question the status quo.

Leaders who refuse to listen will eventually be surrounded by people with nothing helpful to say.

Andy Stanley

2. Those closest to you report to you or are impressed by you.

If somebody needs you it’s hard for them to be honest with you.

Fans rarely care about you. They care about their relationship to you. If their status with you is more important to them than you are to them, they’ll always pause before giving hard feedback and before risking new ideas.

3. You feel alone.

You may be surrounded by people and still feel unknown, unseen, and misunderstood. If you feel like you are drifting towards lone wolf syndrome, here’s three ways to defeat it.

  1. Invite and promote diversity.

You will be stronger when you invite and promote diversity of thought, background, gender, and race. My friend MaryKate Morse recently described how failing to let women lead often creates isolated and powerful leaders.

2. Don’t wait for accountability.

Accountability is passive. Don’t wait for someone to ask the right question at the right time. Instead, ask for input. Then, ask again. If you screw up, spend your energy being honest rather than covering it up.

3. Pause.

Sometimes you become a lone wolf because you are the fastest one in the pack. While it’s fine for your organization to outpace your industry, you won’t be okay if you outrun relationships. Pause to connect. Examine your pace. Bring people with you.

Don’t be satisfied with being a lone wolf. Instead, become a pack leader.

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