I think the column certainly contains some good advice. However, I think Susan misses a very significant point. It is lonely at the top insomuch as you may choose to have it that way if you are the director of human resources. My background is specifically at the municipal level of government. While I have been a director of HR for approximately 27 years, I have found that, while it is certainly helpful to reach out to other directors in other cities and towns to gain a perspective, the most successful directors are those [who] encourage and incorporate the perspectives and ideas of their managing staff.
These directors cultivate and encourage solutions from within. It serves little purpose to seek the perspectives of other directors outside the organization if one does not do the same within the organization. I agree that a CEO has the most "lonely" position in any organization, but you are only as good and effective because of the employees who work with you; and, by the way, not the employees who work for you. I think, to a certain degree, that directors or CEOs cause themselves to be "lonely" because of their management styles and lack of inclusivity at times.
I think sometimes this is brought on by the idea that, since they have to make the "educated" decisions, they do so with insignificant input from the management staff.
I think that the perspectives of internal managers are, for the most part, more valid and useful than outside perspectives. In my experience, it has never been lonely at the top because I treat the employees who work with me with dignity, respect and civility. I have found that when the workplace is replete with this atmosphere that any challenge or project is easily and successfully accomplished. Any director who works in the public or private sector who might feel lonely, in my opinion, has himself or herself to blame.
Do a self-assessment of your management style and determine if you are open-minded, welcoming, respectful, collaborative and nurturing. When one has these qualities, you will discover that the employees who work with you will do anything for you as well as to be there for you whenever they are needed.
Believe me, you will never feel lonely at the top.
John R. Byrne