Are Co-Founders Feeling Lonely in Top Positions?


Co-founders are feeling very lonely in top positions due to various issues. Half of the CEOs express feelings of loneliness and 61% believe that loneliness hinders their performance.

Co-Founders Feeling Lonely | Vector Image of Person sitting lonely in office

Co-founders are feeling very lonely in top positions due to various issues such as lack of trust among the employees, compulsion to not share the business secrets, a limited number of trustworthy peers to interact on a regular basis etc.

According to the Harvard Business Review, half of the CEOs express feelings of loneliness, and of which 61% of them believe that loneliness hinders their performance. Loneliness is more dominant at the top positions and many co-founders are feeling lonely as they do not have many people to share their feelings with.

This is due to the fact that co-founders are only 1-2 in startups and they do not have many other senior ranking officials in their organization to share their concerns or discuss any other issues. Being a cofounder is very difficult as they have to carry the entire responsibility of the organization and every decision they take would affect them.

Technology has also contributed to the increased loneliness among the management as a strong lack of privacy contributed to deeper feelings of isolation. 

It is proven in many types of research that social isolation can result in behavioral changes which might affect the performance of the person adversely by reducing their output. This would in turn affect the organization as a whole and create issues among the co-founders.

It is important for the cofounders to learn how to overcome these feelings of loneliness at work so that they can be healthy and work efficiently. 

Reasons for loneliness:

There are various reasons for the cofounders to experience this loneliness at their workplace and some of these reasons are discussed below:-

Trust issues:

The major reason for loneliness among the cofounders is that they would not get trustworthy people to discuss the secrets of the organization. The cofounders cannot trust their peers as they might leak the information or future plans of the company to their rivals.

These trust issues would develop if there are only a few cofounders in the firm. The more the co-founders and top management in a firm, less would be the fewer trust issues to be faced by the cofounders. 

Business secrets

The other reason for loneliness is the business secrets that the co-founders have to maintain and these things cannot be discussed with any of the employees in the organization.

The business secrets include the operating procedure of the firm, investors, future plans, etc. which could not even be remotely discussed with the employees in the firm as these are meant to be kept secret. 

Few peers to interact

The other reason for loneliness among the co-founders is they have very few peers with to interact. Less the number of people means fewer chances of interacting and this results in loneliness.

Loneliness can impact the performance of the co-founders. Co-founders impacted by loneliness are observed to have low performance and it also affects their decisions. 

Poor work-life balance:

Poor work-life balance can also be the reason for loneliness among the co-founders. If co-founders are spending most of their time in the office and if they do not spend enough time with their family then this would create a loneliness effect on employees.

A proper work-life balance has to be achieved by the co-founders to prevent being lonely. It can be understood that the co-founders need to spend enough time on their company but it doesn’t mean they would neglect their families.

Family is the best stress buster anyone can have and therefore it is important to spend quality time with family to reduce stress and prevent loneliness. 

Public figures:

The final reason for co-founders feeling lonely is that they are treated as public figures and any information from them would affect the performance of their company.

If a co-founder discusses any matter with their employees and it gets leaked then the co-founder has to face the heat of the situation making it extremely critical for them to choose their words and with whom they are talking. 

The loneliness problems can be removed by coaching and building effective relationships with the people who have the same destination as the co-founders, forming a board with certain powers will give the co-founders a boost to take certain decisions and remove the loneliness. 

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Susheel Agarwal

Namaste. I'm Abhinay Nedunuru, a Fellow of the Insurance Institute of India with a passion to make insurance simple and crisp. I write on insurance and investment. I have a passion for teaching and training in particular to insurance. I'm currently doing my PhD from IIM in Management.