Leadership: The Dark Side of Being Alone

Leadership: The Dark Side of Being Alone

I think many of us have an admiration for the Lone Ranger. You know, the guy who single-handedly swoops in to rescue the damsel in distress just before disaster strikes. The same could be said for Spiderman or any super hero.

And, as a result, some of us want to lead in the same manner. We may secretly desire that people line up at the foot of the mountain and wait their turn to come seek our vast wisdom which will help free them from the jaws of difficulty. We may even want to have all the answers and be known as the go-to guy or gal so that everyone will praise our incredible intelligence and leadership skills. And, if we’re honest, some of us want others to think that we developed this wisdom and skill all on our own.

It’s so easy to get stuck in the “going solo” track of life because...

  • It feeds our egos and makes us feel important;
  • It seems much easier than asking others for help and coordinating schedules, etc...;
  • Many people think that seeking help indicates weakness;
  • Some leaders, especially those who are insecure, don’t want to admit that they need help because they believe this indicates that they are not worthy of their leadership position.

The problem with these reasons is that each one is built on faulty thinking and lies and lead to a dark side of leadership.Conceptual royalty free stock image of a businessman carrying the world on his shoulders.

The Trap of Solo Leadership

Though going solo as a leader looks attractive and might appear to be easier, it is a trap of epic proportions that will radically inhibit any leadership development in your organization. It also has the potential to destroy your emotional and physical health.

In my work with leaders, I see that most, if not all, feel:

  • Lonely
  • Isolated
  • Overwhelmed

Yet, many still want to go at it alone... especially when things are not going well.

When things go sideways, it seems to be human nature to hole up by ourselves until the storm passes rather than ask for help. After all, asking for help seems so weak. As much as some people don’t want to admit it, we have a spiritual adversary who is real.  1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Think about how that verse plays out in nature. Have you ever watched on TV as a zebra is being hunted by a lion? If so, you probably know that the lion always goes after the zebra that is by itself. Furthermore, in the verse mentioned, the word “devil” comes from the Greek word “diabolos.”  And one of the meanings of diabolos is “to divide.”

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” - 1 Peter 5:8

Isolation Leads to Us Playing Right Into Our Enemy's Hands

Though we sometimes think that asking for help and rallying support appears weak, the truth is that it is a sign of great strength and humility. Remember, even the Lone Ranger had Tonto by his side. Here are some other benefits of seeking help and gathering with others:

  • Encouragement: Let’s face it, leaders often need encouragement to keep going. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:25).
  • Correction: As a leader advances, the people around them will typically be less willing to speak truth to him/her, yet, the truth is what a leader needs most in order to grow and lead well. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses (Proverbs 27:6).
  • Growth: A leader is better able to stand upright and principled when others are holding them accountable. As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:6).
  • Better Decision Making: Strong leaders recognize that they don’t have all the answers; they realize that their decision making will improve when they surround themselves with wise counselors. Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers, they succeed (Proverbs 15:22).
  • Healing: All leaders carry wounds that need healing. According to the Bible, healing takes place in a community. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed (James 5:16).
  • Fulfillment: Being a leader provides opportunities to speak into the lives of others; this can bring great fulfillment. When we are open and looking for God to use us, we can make a significant difference in the lives of others. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ, we who are many forms one body, and each member belongs to all the others (Romans 12:4-5).
  • Better Chance Of Winning: With the gifts and talent of others around, the odds of succeeding are much greater for a leader. For waging war, you need guidance and for victory, many advisers (Proverbs 24:6).
  • It’s Better and Makes Sense: Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)!

I can attest to these truths firsthand. God has placed incredible people in my life and, though I have faced significant difficulty in recent years, they have helped me to see so much good in all of it. I view these wonderful people as a tangible expression of God’s immense love for me. Though some of my difficulties continue, because of the support of my team, I feel more loved by Him than ever before! This has enabled me to not only get through it but to actually flourish in the midst of it.

So who’s on your team?

Jim Lange serves as president of Five Feet Twenty, a business which helps leaders to be all God designed them to be. He is also the award-winning author of several books including Calming the Storm Within: How to Find Peace in This Chaotic World and Bleedership, Biblical First-Aid for Leaders.