Six Types of Professional Relationships Leaders Have (pt.1)

Six Types of Professional Relationships Leaders have

I’ve found there are at least six main types of professional relationships a leader has. They are inner circle members, friends, supporters, lifters, acquaintances, and dangers or toxic people. We will discuss each of those types of relationships in depth in this 3 part series. Let’s begin with the first two:

1. Inner Circle Members

In John Maxwell’s book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership he says, “A leaders potential is determined by those closest to him.”  Having a close group of inner circle members is one of the most valuable types of relationships you can have. These are the people who have the greatest impact on how you lead, behave, make decisions, produce results, and hold you to your convictions and values. They know just when you need to be corrected, directed, coached, or encouraged. Having the right people in your inner circle is critical for your success. There are several elements to consider when it comes to the type of person who you should invite into your inner circle. They include:

  • People you trust and respect
  • People who have character and integrity. These people live by their beliefs, values and convictions.
  • People who have a variety of skills, talents, and personalities
  • People who already have influence and respect with others
  • People who are willing to take the journey with you, through the good (successes) and bad (failures) times
  • People who are competent and have a proven track record of success and achievement
  • People who add value to the organization and are team players
  • People who are driven and passionate about the purpose, vision, and goals of the organization or team
  • People who are always growing

If those in your inner circle have the above elements, it will cause everyone in the group to move toward their personal and leadership potential. Take time to select a small number of people, I recommend 3-5, to move into your inner circle. These are the people who you know, embody most of the above elements, and meet your personal requirements or standard.

2. Friends

These are people right outside of your inner circle. A friend can also be an inner circle member, supporter, and/or lifter. Author Richard Exley’s description of a friend is noteworthy. He said,

 “A true friend is one who hears and understands when you share your deepest feelings. He supports you when you are struggling; he corrects you, gently and with love, when you err; and he forgives you when you fail. A true friend prods you to personal growth, stretches you to your full potential. And most amazing of all, he celebrates your success as if they were his own.”

Having a friend (or several) can offer increased levels of work satisfaction and enjoyment. It’s easier, more fun, and pleasant to work with a friend verses someone who is just a colleague or a person you can only tolerate. A friendship can begin at work but it tends to move outside of working hours. You find yourself during and outside of work spending time together, openly talking with each other about life, and participating in different activities together.

To make and keep a friend I suggest: initiating the relationship, build trust and respect between each other, serve and bring out the best in them, always be strengthening the connecting, show your gratitude and appreciation for the friendship.  Be the type of friend others want to be friends with.

Questions: Do you have an inner circle and/or friends in your work life? How important are those people to you and your leadership?

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10 thoughts on “Six Types of Professional Relationships Leaders Have (pt.1)

  1. Looking forward to this series!

    Thankfully I do have a few people that are in my inner circle of friends (husband, mom, sister) are my most inner circle. All are Christians who live their faith and seek God on a daily basis and who are humble enough to share their mistakes as well as their success and who also go with me through mine.

    Next I have a few friends who are very dear to me that I can rely on. I feel very blessed.

  2. Good points. I’ve been blessed enough to have people in my professional world as well as my personal world that are good hearted people. You have to be willing to share truth in both directions… true friends help eliminate pride and ego. Thanks for always making me use this rusty noodle!

  3. I feel like the inner circle friends and/or family members are invaluable in helping me grow because I can discuss life with them and I know I’ll get wise advice. As an empty nester, I’ve begun to make more of an effort to add friends to my life each day because I no longer have my kids around during the day to fill my social needs when my husband is off at work. :) It’s been really fun to become more intentional about planning things with friends, even if it’s a conversation on the phone while I’m out walking. Also it’s a nice reward in the afternoon after working all morning. :)

    • I agree with you, they are so essential. It’s great your being intentional about connecting and stay close to your friends. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

  4. I have two groups of 4 people who I would consider “inner circle.” I meet with one group every week and the other group about 2x per month. They definitely help me lead my life and other people better. Lots of wisdom in both groups.