The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness,far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, peculiar to myself and to
a few other solitary men, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence.
--- Tom Wolfe
Leaders today occupy a precarious position. Research by the social psychologist Michael Hogg of Claremont Graduate University suggests that because of the high status of leaders, followers tend to see them as strikingly different from themselves, members of an outgroup to which followers do not belong.
As a result, followers tend to not be too eager to socialize with leaders. Think about it: do you want to hang out with your boss on a Saturday night? I doubt it.
If you do invite any coworkers into your social life, you would probably prefer those with whom you feel you can let your hair down and just be yourself. You probably perceive such individuals to be similar in status to yourself in your organization—and, hence, to belong to your ingroup.
These intra-organizational social dynamics are unfortunate for leaders, as a 2004 study by the Center for Work-Life Policy found that today’s knowledge workers increasingly socialize with their coworkers rather than outside of their organizations.
Who, then, is left to socialize with leaders? For these reasons, leaders often feel isolated and lonely.
If you are in a leadership role, you may be wise to stop hoping for genuine friendships from the people you lead.
Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).