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How to beat loneliness at the top

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Renetta McCann, CEO of the marketing and advertising giant Starcom MediaVest Group, warns women to be prepared for isolation and loneliness when reaching a position of leadership.

McCann advocates three approaches to mitigate those feelings:
  1. Become a mentor. As a leader, you make the best decisions you can based on advice and counsel, but in the end, it’s your call.

    “That’s one reason why I really believe in mentoring,” McCann says, adding that she acts as a mentor to women and young African-Americans. “Being a mentor helps overcome those feelings of loneliness and isolation, and it also helps you maintain contact with the next generation or even the next couple of generations. It keeps you connected.”

  2. Manage fear. Our internal chatter often tells us to be afraid, but leaders learn to be confident. McCann came of age after the initial wave of working women, who believed they could have it all: great career, great family life, great personal life, the whole enchilada.“

    The truth of the matter is, you cannot have it all,” she says. “But you can have the things that are very important to you … as long as you’re clear about the choices that you’re making.”

    If you keep fear at bay and gain confidence in your choices, you’ll be able to make more good choices.

  3. Find heroes or role models. They can be real or imagined. McCann likes Elizabeth I.

    Elizabeth ruled under some challenging circumstances, McCann notes. The queen of England was on the losing side of a religious war. Her father had disowned her, and her sister, brother and cousin had all tried to kill her. Despite that, she managed a long, prosperous reign by seeing everything and revealing little.
—Adapted from “Lessons We Have Learned,” Holly Peterson, Barbara Kantrowitz, Newsweek.

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