How to beat C-Level Loneliness

Many CEOs report that they are lonely at the top, in the sense that they have no one with whom they can bounce ideas and discuss the business strategy or get advice on difficult decisions with.

The recent Harvard Business Review CEO Snapshot Survey revealed that 50% of CEOs feel lonely in their careers and 60% feel that it hinders their performance. First time CEOs feel even more isolated with 70% reporting that they were lonely and felt they couldn’t perform at their peak.

At C-level one needs to accept a certain degree of “loneliness” however that does not mean that nothing can be done about it. Support systems can be built and each CEO needs to find the one that works for them.

Peer groups, such as Vistage, have a great impact on this aspect. Each executive in the group gets access to a non-executive board of peers in a non competitive environment where they can openly discuss ideas, seek advice and use the strength of the group to work towards their goals. 

Vistage members report that they build strong bonds with each other and always have someone to call when they need a helping hand or an unbiased sounding board:

“Vistage has given me the tools and support to take my business and personal development to higher levels. Having an independent board to share ideas and process issues, has proven to be of great value to me. We are now a close knit group who contribute to each others development and success, which goes beyond the regular meetings held. Vistage has also given me various learning experiences, and global resources to guide and support my decision making.” Simon Arrigo, Vistage SB1 Group Member

It could be a question that is particular to the members’ particular industry (in groups members are selected from non-competing industries) It could also be a growth goal which involves a huge shift that nobody in the room might have experienced or the question could be about a new international market that nobody in the room as yet ventured into.

It does not stop there.

There are 36 networks where the question can be asked, and out of 25,000+ members across the globe, chances are that you will get more than one answer that can substantially impact your decision and help you achieve your goal.

There are industry-specific, regional & interest networks which bring members across the globe together to discuss their business, growth strategies and personal interests.

There are discussions which are relevant to most businesses and can be shared and discussed within individual groups. A recent one was looking for advice after having issues dealing with a recently terminated employee who was now spreading negative and angry reviews on the web and social media which was impacting staff morale and the business reputation. There were many helpful responses from CEOs all over who faced similar issues and they related how they dealt with it. I particularly liked the response of one CEO who shared in detail his story about how he asked his team to post what they like about working with the organisation which drowned out all the negative talk and raised morale and public image. Vistage Members can read the full thread on the Marketing & Media Network on the 26th July.

While we certainly do not recommend joining all networks, we suggest you pick 2 or 3 which are relevant to you for instance your industry network which could be Technology where you can discuss the latest practices around the world, your region, EMEA, especially if you are trading in those markets and perhaps the Wellness network if that’s your priority at the moment for yourself and you are implementing wellness strategies for your team. Needless to mention business exchange also takes place over these Networks, where members recommend, trade & interact.

You do not have to be active in all the networks. You may join some of them as an observer for instance if you are thinking of implementing green measures in your organisation, you may join the Sustainability network to observe the discussions and threads that could help your decisions on that aspect. 

If you are not comfortable posting directly or would like to remain anonymous, your Vistage Chair or staff member can post on your behalf. All posts are vetted by a Vistage Moderator before being published so do not worry about grammatical errors or perhaps not being clear in your message.

We invite you to test the power of the network even if you are not yet a Vistage Member: 

Do you have a question no one has managed to answer for you?  Send it to and we can share it anonymously in a relevant network and let you know how other executives can help with it. 

To all of our Vistage Members, get on the networks if you haven’t done so yet and download the app on your phones which you can access through My Vistage. Feel free to reach out for any assistance to access the tools.