So You’re An Alcoholic – Can You Be a Leader?
So you have another corporate function or customer lunch coming up and you dread it – you know you will drink too much. You can’t avoid alcohol, because people will think you are a freak. You have to be one of the boys or one of the girls or you won’t be promoted. But can you really be a leader when you know in your heart you are an alcoholic? How will you cope?
If this sounds like you, or someone you know, this article is important for you.
If you are a leader without an alcohol affliction, this article also is important to you, because the balance of probabilities is that you have alcoholics, or sufferers of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) in your team at work or on the sports arena.
I our article, we:
- share the true story of an alcoholic leader and his battle with AUD (only the names are changed);
- refer you to an article about how leaders can help alcoholics and why they should; and
- offer some resources to help anyone impacted by AUD.
Andy’s Story – It Changed My Life!
Andy the Executive
Andy had climbed the corporate ladder. He was a senior executive in a public organization employing 40,000 people. His talents were visible to all who came in contact with him. But his personal battle was hidden.
Andy had been one of the boys, commencing his career in a sexist world dominated by men at the top. At corporate functions – especially those away from home – he was always one of the last to bed and most drunk. There were always others like him.
He loved customer lunches and the corporate hospitality box, too. Always a chance to try a new beer or wine. And always a time to be merry.
But this was killing him inside…. He knew he had a problem.
The penny had dropped – Andy knew he was an alcoholic. One drink was too many for him, but 20 wasn’t enough.
He had convinced himself that he couldn’t be a leader if he didn’t drink:
- Wouldn’t his peers think he was a freak?
- How could he take a customer out to lunch and not buy a bottle of wine and have that cleansing ale afterwards?
- And how would he be promoted if were seen to have a weakness?
Then his problem came to a head. His beautiful ever-supportive wife gave him an ultimatum – he needed to cease drinking or lose his family. Andy freaked – what would his choice be…family or career? In his heart, he knew that he chose his family. But in his head he thought his career was finished.
The Unexpected Happened
Andy went cold turkey and ceased drinking. His first customer lunch came up since he became a teetotaler. He didn’t know what he was going to say to explain why he wasn’t drinking. He discussed his fears with his wife and they agreed it was simply best that he said it was a lifestyle choice.
Andy had never felt this nervous in his whole career. Lunch came and went without a hitch – his customer said he was more than happy to drink soft drinks anyway.
Then the same happened at his second lunch. And third. And then things went further…two of his customers, on separate occasions, confided in Andy that they admired him; that they themselves felt they had drinking issues; and they were relieved to go to a lunch where there was no pressure to drink alcohol. Andy was stunned…and very encouraged!
Then the same happened at work. Some employees told him that they admired having a leader whom they could trust at corporate functions…who they could respect…and who set the right culture.
And Andy noticed something – when he used to be in that last cohort in the lift, drunk, at 4am in the morning, he had always thought that the group represented the majority. But when he went back to the hotel room now at a corporate function at 10pm, the cohort he was with formed a long queue outside the lift. Only now was he part of the majority!
Then Andy had an epiphany – he realized he was leading…Andy the alcoholic was a leader!
Andy Had a 100% Probability of Suffering AUD
Andy didn’t know this…and neither did we until we conducted our research. It turns out that alcoholism, or AUD, is a disease. It is 50% genetic and 50% environmental. Andy had been abused as a child and grown up in a family of alcoholics, so he had the genes and the environmental issues. No wonder he suffered AUD! Knowing this really helped him…he wasn’t a weak, bad person after all.
If you are interested in more research, please see our article Leadership Characteristics List – Dealing With Alcoholics.
You Are Not Alone – Famous, Successful People With AUD
Amazing People, Amazing Achievers
You are not alone…you are amazing!
My experience is that the vast majority of people coping with AUD are amazing – they are not the cliched homeless person on the street or drunks in a bar before lunchtime. I’ve had real experience with alcoholics and I can genuinely say that they typically are more can-do than most…and much more compassionate.
Be proud to know you are a silent person in the famous people demographic, too…
Ten Household Names Who Overcame AUD
There are many people I could have included, so please just treat this as a sample that is representative of the pervasiveness of successful people who became famous (for the right reasons), despite struggling with alcoholism, from varied walks of life. You can add your name!
- Award-winning actor, Bradley Cooper
- Star of the Harry Potter movies, Daniel Radcliffe
- Legendary singer-songwriter and Grammy Award winner, Billy Joel
- Multi-award winning actress, Carrie Fisher
- Best-selling author, Stephen King
- Former First Lady to US President Gerald Ford, Betty Ford
- Famous author, Ernest Hemingway
- Artist, Vincent van Gough
- Revered United Kingdom Prime Minister, Winston Churchill
- Astronaut and second person to walk on the moon, Buzz Aldrin.
Families and Friends
And I must recognize that the families and friends of AUD victims are real day to day leaders.
Books and Other Helpful Resources For You
As covered in a previous article (click here to read it), mybestchoices.org and Amazon have collaborated to provide you with recommended books at the top of this article. We ensure the recommendations are up-to-date and include books about alcoholism, books about treating alcohol use disorder, books about counseling families of alcoholics and books about research on alcohol use disorder.
We believe this is the best choice for you out of all websites we have researched…indeed, we only determined this mechanism as an unintended result of the research we conducted.
To get help, and to get an understanding about those that do, please make contact with alcohol addiction support groups. There will be one near you. Here are just a few organizations that will help you:
- Alcoholics Anonymous – https://www.aa.org/
- Alcohol Rehab Guide – https://www.alcoholrehabguide.org/support/
- Rehab4Alcoholism – https://www.rehab4alcoholism.com/programme/alcohol-addiction-counseling/
Alcoholism is way under-reported and affects just about everyone in life one way or the other.
Many leaders are sufferers of AUD. Overcoming, or dealing with, AUD makes many people better leaders…so please remember this if ever you doubt yourself. And know that many, many successful people are alcoholics…even if they no longer drink, they still consider themselves alcoholics and are vigilant in managing themselves.
We all need support, no matter what afflictions we do or don’t have. Books can help, support organizations can help and…best of all…families, friends and work colleagues can help. Feel confident that you can thrive…and ensure you discuss any problems you have, as starting the discussion starts your road to betterness.
Have your say about this important issue – leave comments below this article and share this article!
Onward and upwards!