The Loneliness of Command


“Jukes was uncritically glad to have his Captain at hand.  It relieved him, as though that man had, by simply coming on deck, taken at once most of the gale’s weight upon his shoulders.  Such is the prestige, the privilege, and the burden of command.  Captain MacWhirr could expect no comfort of that sort from anyone on earth.  Such is the loneliness of command.”  (Joseph Conrad’s Typhoon, pg. 75, published in 1919 by Doubleday & Company)

I found this reference in The Winning Performance.  We speak about it being “lonely at the top” in reference to CEOs.  Here are two ways CEOs can deal with this issue:

  • Build a strong, cohesive executive team.  This allows the CEO to “share the burden.”
  • Even with a strong, cohesive executive team in place, there will still be issues that CEOs shoulder on their own.  It can be helpful to partner with a seasoned CEO advisor, someone who can come alongside him to provide wise perspective and direction to excellent resources on-point with the issue at hand.

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