Why Every Leader Needs to Spend Time Alone

Studies have long shown that chronic loneliness and isolation are damaging to people’s mental and physical health. But a balanced amount of time spent alone has clear benefits—and depending on your temperament, it may be a necessity. It can even help strengthen your leadership. Here’s how:

Improved social relationships. At first glance, it doesn’t make sense to improve your social relationships by being alone . But when you take the time to look inward, defining your needs and priorities, your social life will be better spent. Similarly, time alone can improve your relationships at work. And the better your relationships, the happier and more productive you’ll be—as a human and as a leader.

Improved creativity. The best way to foster creativity is to take the time to give yourself a framework of goals, outcomes, objectives and results. If you don’t slow down to do this work you will find yourself going around in circles. And once you’ve determined a destination, getting and staying in touch with your creativity requires the kind of deep dives that are best accomplished alone.

Improved confidence. Many leaders subscribe to the mantra fake it till you make it, but as a leadership coach I have seen this approach cause far too many implosions. Instead, lead from within by developing an understanding of who you are and what you’re good at. From there you can build on your strengths and leverage your weaknesses in authentic ways that benefit both you and those you lead. It’s a deeply rewarding process, one that will benefit you in every way, and it requires spending the kind of focused time and energy that you can find only when you’re alone.

Improved emotional regulation. Most leaders have a thousand things coming at them all at once. Those who spend some daily time centering themselves in quiet meditation, prayer, or thought are able take it in stride. Those who never give their nerves a break from the constant overstimulation and chaos of the work day are far more likely to react badly as soon as something goes off track.

Improved decision making. When decisions need to be made—and especially when they need to be made quickly—the best leaders take a moment to themselves. They aren’t stalling—they’re making a peaceful space to review their options, make sure they’re thinking clearly and accounting for everything. A little focused time yields clear, well-thought-out decisions.

Many people, especially those who are extroverts by nature, may find it hard to spend time alone. But if you can develop a regular practice of closing your door to the world, you’ll give yourself time with your thoughts and a space for your mind to wander in new directions. Time alone can be restorative, building your confidence, creativity, and productivity, and helping you better engage with others.

Lead from within: Give yourself a break and spend some more time alone so you can become the leader you are meant to be.


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The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Denny Nguyen

    03. Jul, 2020

    This is excellent insight into the needs of a leader. To repeat your point, leaders tend to have multiple issues thrown at them all at once. Having time alone to slow down and process the information has great value. I can’t remember how many times I wish I would have taken the personal time to think issues through before making a quick decision which may have better solutions available. If I may add, leaders may struggle to find physical time alone, however, they are regularly mentally isolated. There are so many instances where leaders can’t share the information they have with their teams, at the same time, feel like they can’t bother their superiors with the issues. They are left very psychologically very lonely.

    Thanks for the wonderful post Lolly.

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