Lonely at the Top – 5 Ways to Stay Connected to Your SLT Colleagues

January’s lockdown reminds us what a different place our business environment became in 2020.

Strong, inspirational, and effective leadership have been crucial for businesses to navigate the crisis. Leading through the pandemic, while keeping people physically and psychologically safe has been no easy task. Then there are the small matters of maintaining performance, culture, service levels, and the organisation’s commercial viability.

Traditionally, life at the top can be lonely. For senior leaders, the COVID-19 era has been particularly testing.

Tasked with ever more complex challenges and pressures, senior leaders in the pandemic-age miss out on everyday interactions that were previously a regular part of the working day. Over time, a dearth of in-person interactions with peers, combined with remote working isolation, have created room for doubt, distrust, oversensitivity, and ultimately a focus on function over collaboration.

This, in turn, can lead to a loss in senior leadership agility, and a lack of consistency for the rest of the workforce. Pandemic-related human relation challenges like these can easily slip into leadership blind spots. For this, we can be forgiven. Leaders have been under tremendous pressure since the onset of COVID-19.

So, for those at the top, mutual trust and collaboration are important factors for a healthy mindset and a healthy business culture. With that in mind, let us consider some ideas for maintaining and improving senior team connectivity.

  • Make collaboration part of your SLT conversation – come together as senior team with a deliberate focus on team ethos. Consider a team coaching session with an external facilitator for a fresh perspective of team dynamics and business challenges.
  • Make trust-building a priority, an extension of point number one; senior leaders’ actions and decisions must reflect the values they communicate. If trust is eroded at the top, this can have a withering effect on culture.
  • Coach and be coached – senior leaders should buddy up and dust off those coaching skills for some beneficial peer-group support.
  • Focus on culture under pressure – as a team, press pause on the immediate and functional, and take some time to explore opportunities for moving culture and staff engagement in a positive direction.
  • Remember the relationship aspect of wellbeing – the Dale Carnegie Golden Book remains a classic resource for building confidence, trust, and respect, at the interpersonal level, and maintaining healthy culture, engagement and performance.

Juliette Dennett

Managing Director

Dale Carnegie Northern UK