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.
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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