One of the observations I’ve made about life is that our most important decisions and relationships are usually very private. Your marriage, your best friends and even your relationship with God – all have “public” parts to them, but the core of those relationships is very private. When you’re a business owner, that relationship is not with another individual, but with an entity that is both non-personal and highly personal. The corporation – the business itself – is not personal. It’s a logical structure that does not have emotions or thoughts. The highly personal part is that you work with employees who bring a plethora of talent, insights, energy, issues, ideas and emotions into the mix. Different employees have different reactions to stress – they have different reactions to praise or coaching or other interactions with managers, peers and direct reports. Yet they all expect to be understood and all require good personal skills in order to succeed with them.
Stewardship can sometimes feel a bit isolating. Because your primary role as a steward is to represent another who is not present, your own person and work can get lost in the transactions as you represent the owner to others. This is why Pastor’s tend to report such high levels of loneliness – they represent God to the world and yet they can feel (at times) very misunderstood and rather lonely. I would submit that anytime you are working on behalf of another who is not physically present, this sense of isolation can creep up on you. But there are some things you can do to lessen the frequency and intensity of the feelings of isolation.
First, be sure that you don’t lose your identity or personality. To help with this, be sure to have outside interests that don’t overlap with your business and that also enhance your personhood in some way. Secondly, gather a core team of people around you who compliment your strengths in areas where you are not strong. The key, IMHO, to developing a strong leadership team in any organization is to have a group of people who understand their strengths and weaknesses and know how to leverage other’s strengths within the team to make the team and the business better. Finally, build margin into your life. You can’t run on 100% all the time. You need margin to rest and regenerate. Those who work all the time are rarely more productive than those who have margin in their lives. While they might generate more “dust” with activity, they usually do not generate more measurable results.
One more thing – join a group of other CEOs or business owners who can be a sounding board to you and from whom you can learn from their experiences. This shared experience – running and owning a business – is learned in isolation but can be shared in a safe environment with others who are engaged in the same work you are.