Category Archives: bosses

Lonely at the top

It doesn’t have to be

LonelyYou could be proud of the fact that you are all alone running your business. You could be constantly complaining and feeling sorry for yourself. Or you can make different choices. It can be lonely at the top, but it doesn’t have to be.

Sharing your challenges and looking for solutions by confiding in family, friends or employees may not be enough. In fact, some of the issues may be caused by family, friends and employees and you have already learned that sharing with them is not always helpful. You need knowledgeable, experienced, objective input from outside that inner circle. You cannot possibly consider all the viable options and develop the best solutions in isolation.

So how do you expand your circle of confidants to break the cycle of struggling alone looking for better answers?

Consider these options, which have worked well for other independent business owners:

  • Use professional advisors – your accountant, lawyer, business consultant.
  • Hire a mentor or personal coach.
  • Recruit an advisory board.
  • Join a peer advisory group of similar, but non-competing businesses.
  • Select trusted strategic partners – banker, customer, competitor or supplier.

You do not have to be alone at the top.

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson



An earlier post suggested that we might have better decision making if managers asked themselves what their mother would think of their actions. But what about those employees that expect you to act like their mother?

What is the right level of caring and compassion before it becomes more personal than a working relationship should be? Is there a reasonable limit? Is it appropriate to get involved with issues that are strictly personal? Do employees become part of your extended family with all the additional obligations that implies?

Some recent exposure to business owners dealing with their employees' personal issues has caused me to be more cautious about getting involved. Once they start lending a sympathic ear, then a shoulder to cry on, it soon becomes more time consuming on and off the job and creates a relationship that is difficult to steer back to business only. It also becomes a distraction for other employees and creates new concerns about favouritism.

My guideline for these situations would be to decide whether you would do what's being requested for every employee in the same situation. Personal advice? Time off? Cash advances? If not, then say no to the first request. Don't start a precedent that you're not prepared to write into the policy manual.

And don't be afraid to clarify the relationship, "I'm your boss, not your mother".