In the last many studies I find that despite agile teams and flat hierarchies, the important decisions top managers often make alone and lonely. There is also talk of isolated managers who have little contact with the real events of the company. But what’s the point and makes leadership really lonely?

From conversations with top managers, I realize that the more powerful, the higher we are, the more lonely we become. The problems are that in classical organizations , “power” often simply cannot be delegated.

Managers feel lonely

The CEO Schnapshop Survey shows that almost 60% of the 1000 managers surveyed admit that they feel lonely. The reason is that especially in the old manager generation – a manager should not show any feelings. But also Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk or Steve Jobs “only” a human being. They have feelings such as joy, anger, fear or even loneliness. Especially in high positions, however, it is teeming with so-called politics and intrigue. It’s about power and you tend to isolate yourself and make it inviolable.

Management means a lot of responsibility

A management position is far from easy. There is a lot of responsibility to be taken and to find the balance between old values and new agile teams. Often top managers are also deliberately isolated from other managers, so that they can hardly intervene in their own area. Silo thinking in particular encourages such behaviour or even little sympathy with managers among middle managers.

The new generation of managers

I see that there is a new generation of managers who are much more involved. These people score with an open character and healthy human values. Especially those managers who actively design organizations are actively involved and are not isolated. Recent examples also show clear success.

For example, the often casually dressed and very direct football coach Jürgen Klopp was voted Manager of the Year by Manager Magazin for “Management with Charisma, Chuzpe [Dreistigkeit] and Cleverness” (Manager Magazin 2019). This decision is in marked contrast to that of previous years and has sparked a controversial debate. Another example is ex-Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, who abolished the tie at Daimler and caused a real scandal in the top management floors of German Dax companies during a presentation with a T-shirt with the inscription ‘Do-Epic-Shit’.


The character of managers should be based on authenticity. Intimidated by the power or wealth of a top manager, many employees do not dare to report to you honestly or simply to come to the office. As a top manager, therefore, always put your own character to the test. To this end, I am currently carrying out a study, which will soon be evaluated on the blog. The survey runs from May to August and can be found here.

Update: This is currently available before publication in the journal for organizational development. I think it will be released in September about.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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