Add to that, your world gets more hyper-connected with each passing day. Any, even minor, mistake you – or others on your teams – make, can create instant, major blow-back. How could it not? After all, you face 24/7/365, always-on media, government regulators, Wall Street analysts, company shareholders, community stakeholders, critics, customers and employees, each with different – and sometimes conflicting – demands.
In 2005, however, I noticed a troublesome trend. Increasingly, the pressures were taking a toll. I’d become a trusted, confidential counsel which is why, over time, more and more of them felt comfortable to share worries they’d not disclosed to others, even to spouses, coaches and counselors, and certainly not to Boards, other senior executives or employees. They were overwhelmed. They feared they were not up to facing the future successfully. Even more, they feared their companies were destined for failure, their employees would lose jobs and the patients they served would suffer.
In 2007, I found the answer in an unlikely place – the fashion magazine W – and from an unlikely source: Robert Downey, Jr. In an interview, he’s quoted as saying he needed a “pit crew” of people to help him live his life. He wasn’t a Model T; he was a Ferrari, so it took a pit crew to keep him on the road.
·In that case, what should a leader do? What my favorite superhero called “pit crews”, I call “networks.” I urge you to learn about yours. Explore who’s in them. Learn if an important person might be missing. Determine whether they’re supporting you well enough and if not – especially if it’s someone you pay for services – consider making changes.
·Why is this important? It is true for everyone, but especially for leaders: when it comes to your career, the strengths and the weaknesses of every other network show up in force. Unreliable child care, doctors who keep you waiting, or a contractor that walks out on a remodeling job, for example, drain your energy and rob you of the peace of mind you need to lead well.
·Then, what’s next? With new insights about your own life, realize that each of your employees – and customers – are facing similar non-work support challenges. Many may not yet have the skills you’ve developed during your leadership journey. What might that mean for how you manage? For the training you provide? For company benefits? For new products and services for your market? For customer service? Please keep me posted. I’d love to hear about it.
was a Reagan Appointee, a Merck&Co Global Vice President and Founder of Strategic Health Policy International, Inc. With Bruce LaMont, she recently c-founded CogentSageQI, an innovative performance optimization platform built on a unique data ecosystem aligned to key performance indicators and the bottom line. She is the author of