It is true that you could easily lose track of that 'closeness' while running your operations once you have reached that SME level. You would find that you are going to have a bigger headcount to manage so your work style needs to change. However, that does not necessarily mean that you need to scrap the entire old work style because you can incorporate it into the new environment while adopting additional styles.
Learning should be made a lifetime journey regardless of how much we think we have picked up so far. There should be no ending to learning and this spirit is what will drive us to gain more knowledge as we go. If every employee were to pick up this good habit, the environment that we work in could be so much more rewarding.
I think the crux here is what the definition of happiness is. I know of plenty of people are fighting the rat race and many others who are happen to just have a pantry full of food in storage, a happy family and a roof over their heads. Not too sure what other solutions we can find to improve our lives except to keep striving for what fulfils us in order to achieve our dreams. That's the only way onward isn't it?