Being an Effective Leader: One Surprising Reason Leaders Need Solitude

being an effective leader


One tip for being an effective leader: A leader needs to spend significant time in solitude – to think and to reflect – in order to be successful. Otherwise, we can never focus on what really matters.

Surely you mean busyness, not solitude?

Solitude and success? That doesn’t seem likely! Busyness is the real key to success. It’s the signal that we’re important, and doing important work. When someone asks how you’re doing, it’s become popular to say you’re really busy. Nothing screams success more than someone starting a conversation with you by saying, “I know you’re really busy, but …”. Right?

Being an Effective Leader: Stopping to look at the bigger picture

My experience is that when I am busy, I’m not really accomplishing as much as I can do. With no time to reflect, there’s simply no way I can raise my eyes from the minutiae to see the bigger picture. The only way I’ve found to be an effective leader is to ensure I spend some time in solitude. For at least ten minutes every day, and for one day every month, I try to unplug from technology, find a quiet place in my study, away from the office, and spend time with God and my own thoughts.

Being an effective leader means dedicating time to spend in uninterrupted, deep reflection, otherwise we can never really focus on what matters. A leader needs to spend significant time thinking strategically.

Can a leader really be inaccessible?

For spiritual leaders in particular, this may seem counterintuitive to being an effective leader. After all, as pastors, surely we are supposed to be accessible 24/7? How can we be successful pastors if, on occasion, we decline all meetings and visits, we don’t answer emails, texts or the phone, and we refuse to accept interruptions? If we believe reflection and analytical work are important enough, then there are times when we must be inaccessible.

Being an Effective Leader: Carving out time for solitude

Here are some ways I carve out time for solitude:

  • For daily solitude, I try and do it first thing in the morning, before I am interrupted by anything or anyone else.
  • I have reduced the number of times I check email to just twice a day.
  • I block out one day for reflection and long-term planning every month for and won’t book anything else in on that day.
  • I switch my phone off when I am reflecting or focusing on long-term planning.

Being busy is not a badge of honour. Being accessible 24/7 isn’t sustainable. Neither helps you in being an effective leader. We need to make time to think strategically about the organisation we lead and the mission God has called us to. Solitude helps to carve out time to do this.

Photo by Christopher Sardegna on Unsplash

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