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Friendships at the Top

January 15, 20232 min read

“It’s lonely at the top”… I used to hear this as a young emerging director. 

I believed it, and thought that was how it was supposed to be. I initially shaved off any personal  connection to coworkers and direct reports in order to maintain professional boundaries, clear lines, respect and credibility…. That was the advice, anyway. 

I followed it. Therefore I felt it. Separated, and alone. 

I’m grateful I didn’t heed that advice for long. 

Relationships built based upon authenticity and meaning not only provide the necessities to get the work done, they enable it to be done with a certain kind of power that comes through transparency, connectedness, and genuine care. 

The bad news is more graceful to deliver, the motivational rally chants grow louder in a crowd that runs together, the change management required to maneuver sharp corners is easier with a hand across the bend, and the wins are far richer with celebration when there’s a true comradery among those who reached victory. 

More importantly, genuine relationships transcend performance, company names, strategic plans, and best or worst case organizational outcomes. They can also be the life raft for dire personal situations, and even turn into lifetime best friendships. 

The last few weeks for various reasons, I spent time with more than a dozen people from different decades of my career, on different days and for different purposes, nothing related to work. 

I marveled at the bonds that have been built across the years, organizations, moments, milestones, and memories. We raised glasses to newlyweds, swam in pools with kids that weren’t even born when we joined teams, met new significant others after divorces, passed tissues for personal losses, honored housewarmings, popped champagne for birthdays, sang top of our lungs to cover bands, drove miles for impromptu coffee meet ups when a plane from across country landed in the same state, shared resources for health circumstances, even helped one another move. 

It was in these moments I reflected back and was so thankful I didn’t stay in that isolation mentality for long. 

Our foundations have been built on vulnerability, grit, laughter, life transitions, going the extra mile (literally, by air and highway), sending flowers (and a few dozen hilarious memes), bad singing, ER visits, inside jokes, tacos, pranks, watching each other’s kids, and yet very little to do with “work”…. It may have been how we met, and we may have accomplished some amazing things while there…. but it is not the basis of who we are or how we converge. How we have connected is beyond how we work together, it’s how we live and how we do life together that has made all the difference. 

Wherever we are in our professional journey…. It is only as lonely as we make it, and that choice is ours. 

Choose connection. 

#work  #career #people #grateful #respect #team #friendship #loyalty #success #fun #play #connection #commitment #balance

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Keri Laine, MHR, CMS

Keri has held C-level roles in various size organizations, public and private. In the past fifteen years, she has specialized in helping technology, manufacturing, and engineering companies disrupt their sector with entrepreneurial, innovative success across the globe. Keri has led organizations through employee growth of 100 to 4,000, both public and private with revenue stages from $40m to $5.6b. She has facilitated 27 mergers and acquisitions globally, spearheading the talent and human capital perspective as well as the business integration, strategic planning, internal communication, and change management. She is a former global Chief level Executive that has taken three organizations public. Keri is a keynote speaker and author. Keri earned her undergraduate degree with a focus on Organizational Behavior from the prestigious Rollins College, where she also earned her Masters Degree in Human Capital Management, and now teaches Graduate level coursework related to strategy, planning, talent optimization, culture building, and more. She is also certified in Change Management, and is a Certified Executive Leadership Development Coach who has coached more than 200 of the top executives and entrepreneurs.

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