The Three Power-People You Need on Your Team
The enemy of success is isolation. The higher you go the easier isolation becomes, but, it’s a devastating problem at all levels of leadership.
Isolated leaders fear conspiracies and feel misunderstood. Worse yet, ivory-tower leaders resort to control through authority.
Us/them thinking destroys influence.
Defeat isolation and enhance success by developing a high-power inner circle.
Don’t take volunteers. Choose your inner circle.
Three people are enough. Six is too many and two is too few. You need a:
- Visionary who is never satisfied.
- Tender-heart who nurtures people.
- Doer who is fanatical about execution.
Note: Include at least one old and one young.
- Hard working. Doers trump thinkers.
- Strong opinions and emotions. Lapdogs feel good but won’t take you far.
- Unflinching alignment with organizational values.
- Comfort saying no. Good manners are nice but not essential.
- Dedication to serve the organization before serving themselves.
- Strength to confront brutal facts.
- Openness to change.
Technical skills and experience are nice, but character comes first.
You won’t find candidates who perfectly fit the bill. Weaknesses are strengths in disguise. Consider the:
Recruit strong people. Hard to manage is better than easy.
- Create connections within the inner circle.
- Instigate creative tension.
- Honor their individual perspectives.
- Satisfy their fundamental concerns.
- Focus them on finding solutions.
Put your three people – visionary, tender-heart, and doer – together and shake them up. Help them butt heads. Design projects, programs, solutions, and vision that satisfies their individual perspectives.
Focus, ignite, and galvanize your inner circle and your organization will follow.
Don’t worry about those who feel jealous of the inner three. But, don’t constantly huddle in public, either.
What qualities are essential for a high-powered inner circle?
Nice post Dan. I like the diversity. It’s essential. I’ve learned the hard way that no one does it alone nor can we do it all alone.
Your strengths list is solid. Some caveats on points 1 and 2.
Doers trump thinkers ONLY if they aren’t doing blind compliance. Speaking from personal experience in more then one area at different times of my life. i.e. military, and a job I had after husband passed away.
We can be GREAT ‘doers’ yet we can do ourselves right into the ground if it’s done for the ‘wrong’ types of orgs or people. And/or if we are doing it to escape OTHER things. (in the latter case it was working so hard to escape directly handling grief, etc)
So I’d say our thinking needs to plan our doing. However, your point also shares equal warning. We can spend so much time thinking INSTEAD of doing.
#2: The point about lapdogs and how they make you feel good but don’t take you far. Bingo. This can be such a challenge for many people when kindness and people pleasing tendencies become mistaken for genuine loving behavior. When it may be dysfunctional co-dependency, people -pleasing due to fear, and/or outright manipulation to get what one wants.
No one wants to be chronically criticized, psychologically or verbally abused. We ALL want to receive the good stuff when it comes to uplifting encouragement, motivation, feedback, etc. It can fuel our hope and give us strength when we are feeling weak and down. Yet we can’t forget that we also need to come from a position of honesty and truth. Kindness without honesty is not ‘kind’ at all. And truth without kindness is equally hurtful.
Ultimately, what comes to mind is a reminder that for any given point, we can easily swing between two extremes and learning to be mindful and aware can help us recognize when we do. In addition to trustworthy inner circle team members helping with awareness and blind spots.
Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Samantha. You don’t often comment so I know this one connected with you.
Your qualifications regarding doers are important and useful. It can be taken too far. I’ve adopted a basic orientation that doing and learning go hand in hand. Of course, awareness and an open mind are necessary.
Happy New Year
I DO read every post you publish Dan. : )
Yes, many points resonated with me on this one. Mainly because of my own experience on both ends of the spectrum. Both as a doer AND as a thinker.
Happy New Year to you and yours!
Thanks Samantha. I especially liked one of the first sentences of your comment. “You can’t do it alone”. I always have, and will continue to believe that, “if you/we, leave poeple out of our plans, we had better plan on FAILING”!!! (Loyalty and respect go both ways, if you don’t give it, don’t expect any in return)
Yes, for those that do it alone, it is generally born either out of necessity or conditioning/training. Unfortunately, getting used to doing things alone can blind us to the need for asking for help when we really need it. Even when we know we can’t adequately cover ALL things alone.
And yes, loyalty and respect is very much a two way street.
Thanks for your comment!
Well Samantha, I have discovered after years of pondering if I were meant to be here one my HP would not have put the rest of ya here!!
I heard this spiritual dude on youtube yesterday say the greatest gift we could ever give one another is a safe place just to be themselves. Cool, huh?
Then he said share your soul……spirit of unconditional love.
So I been doing that to see how much oxytocin it releases.
Oh yeah that loyalty thingy is cool with healthy folk. On the other hand you ought to see how it is distorted in adult children of alcoholics!!!! Messy!!!
Anyways take care, rock on!!!
Meant be here alone!!! Hehe
Understood Scott! : ) I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been miffed and have come to a similar conclusion. ‘If I was meant to know everything and do everything all by myself all of the time, I wouldn’t have arrived on a planet with billions of other people!!!!! ‘ : )
As for the greatest gifts, I’d have to say that it’s true for the most part. I know that is what I long for and want others to feel the same way around me. It tends to get messed up and twisted when abuse is involved though. Love and acceptance doesn’t mean we have tolerate abusive behaviors. Especially when children are involved, otherwise, we teach them that it’s ok to be victimized.
Which falls right in with what you are saying when it comes to loyalty and adult children of alcoholics.
Yes! Messy! Yet…thanks to grace, it’s not impossible to overcome. : )
Grace and peace to you Scott. Thanks for commenting. : )
Outstanding, Dan. I particularly like “Don’t take volunteers” and “Don’t huddle in public.” The latter is particularly important, I think. To build trust across an organization there needs to be enough transparency that people are not feeling blind-sided by the “leadership.” Good stuff.
Thanks Steven. It wasn’t that long ago that I learned the importance of not huddling in public. I had a private conversation at a public gathering with an inner circle member. I found out that people wondered what we were talking about and if something was wrong. Doh!
We were just discussing something. Lesson learned. I had inadvertently created anxiety and also isolated myself from others.
Good stuff Dan,
For me u left out the most important part. Creating a team who believe what I believe.
I may find the strongest person in earth and work with them. Then all I have done is put a person on my inner team who will always basically disagree with me every step of the way and they are STRONG!!!! Pretty dumb move on my part.
For me goes right back to the basics. If I want something, say a strong inner cricle. Find someone with an inner circle I would like to have and ask them they did that. Then follow the instructions. Pretty simple, right?
Most good ideas are.
Or make it complicated with words and ideas and concepts and get caught up in the idea of it all and spend time finding out all about it and doing nothing.
SP back to finding opportunities to let the oxytocin gush!!
Thanks Scott. You focus on shared beliefs is well taken. I was thinking of it in the terms of values but I can see a distinction.
Only problem with surrounding yourself with THE SAME,or, like-minded people is getting locked in simular repetative pardigms which can ‘at times’, lead us into making THE SAME old mistakes.. Just uh thought Scott!
Absolutely Steve. Great point.
Diversity in opinion is different than core beliefs.
According to Simon Sinek in his book Leaders Eat Last, Marines ROCK!!!!!!
He uses them in his examples and had a Lt Colonel I think write the foreword.
An extreme example is a tree hugger and a navy seal.
Both could be strong but different core beliefs.
Both maybe even willing to die for what they believe in but gonna cross swords a lot.
One wants to hug a tree and save the whales. The other whales got to go if that is what it takes to nab a bad guy.
So ways to skin the cat, good thing to have diverse opinions, core beliefs, not so much.
Just my two cents worth, don’t mean I am right!!! Just right for me based on what I know now.
Always subject to change!!!
Did you know Warren Buffett spends a good bit of time each day trying to disprove the paradigms he starts out everyday with?
Smart Dude. Others spend time trying to prove theirs. Who seems like they are winning to you Steve?
Take care and thanks for commenting. Always enjoy what you share a great deal.
Hi Dan. I am struck by how much this post applies to those who want to maintain vitality late into life. Your suggestions call for the creation of a sort of “Mastermind” group for those who wish to actively continue to live out their life’s purpose. Isolation, loss of focus on purpose and failure to keep mentally and physically challenged cause rapid decay of vitality (mental and physical). Individuals who wish to make a difference and remain vital will benefit from using your suggestions for themselves.
Thanks Roger. I appreciate your take on these ideas. There has been lots of talk about a personal board of directors. These ideas might apply there, as well.
The mistake we make is avoiding people who are different from us. Those are the people we need most. They can even be irritating. 🙂
I’m a vision guy. I find doers/nurturers add so much to my perspective.
This post is based on three people I currently have in my inner circle.
Thank you for such a simple formula for success. I am fiery and impulsive, which explains why my career is stalling so badly. I will work on keeping my reckless creativity under control at work! I try to channel as much as I can into my blog…
Thanks Dunkablog. One of the worst things organizations do is domesticate the fire out of people. It’s much better to channel and leverage it. Trouble is fire is hard to manage. Most choose the easy route. Best wishes
Great post Dan
I would add a ‘mobilizer’ – an effective communicator, with strong interpersibal skills/ EQ, respected and trusted, for their integrity and care for the well being of others, to help align, galvanize and engage others in pursuit of organizational goals
This could be a role undertaken by any one of your three- I believe it is important for sustainable, organizational momentum and alignment
Happy and healthy 2014!
Thanks Lori. Your insights made me smile. I’m the fourth in the group. You’re describing the kind of person I want to be with the three in my inner circle. I want to keep them moving forward.
One issue is a group of diverse people can stall. It needs someone who constantly pushes for real action.
Great post today. I have found great sucsess and satifaction from developing an ‘Inner-Circle’ of reliable, trustworthy, confidants. I really like your list of 3 different leader styles suggested. Each of us have times we need the advice and guidance of others. At other times we simply want to bounce ideas off trusted leaders who have faced simular obstacles and challenges. In my experience, I’ve found the higher I , (as well as others), move up the ladder of sucsess, the smaller and smaller your circle of TRUE-FREINDS become. Thats when “It’s YOUR job”, to create connections. If you want to be surrounded by good people, find ways to place yourself in the company of ‘Good people’… Cheers my freind! Were you a good boy last year???
Thanks Sergeant. You made me think about the importance of a broad range of individuals we can call on. They all don’t have to be in the inner circle. Content experts, people of experience are all people we can and must connect with. Nice add.
Thanks for this piece. Compliance is further away from commitment than resistance. Healthy diversity, divergence, and dissension are essential for great decision-making. Having the 3 types of people in our inner circle enriches the choices. I love the concept of “weaknesses are strengths in disguise.” Every strength has a corresponding weakness. Knowing this allows us to openly work on them, which makes our strengths even stronger. And I have discovered that accountability energizes behavior.
Thanks Mick. Love that second sentence. “Compliance is further away from commitment than resistance.” Bingo
Glad you picked up on the weaknesses idea. I’m afraid we rule out the very people who could be most helpful because we only see the dark side of their strength.
Awesome words Dan…I’ve been blessed to be on several teams were diversity ruled at the tactical and operational level…but it gets so difficult at the strategic
Thanks and all the best in ’14
Thanks jstfly21. Your observation that at the strategic level diversity is more difficult is well taken. It’s incredibly easy to surround yourself with yes-people and incredibly difficult to find people who will speak the truth to power.
Needed in the circle, perhaps in the “doer” category is a details person. I fall under the “visionary and doer categories” and as much as details sometimes get to me I often see the value of people who cross the Ts and dot the I’s… Great post Dan
Brilliant addition to the list Blessingmpofu. To a certain degree, those in our inner circle should irritate us because they see things differently.
This is very helpful to me – thank you Dan!
Super helpful and insightful. Thanks for this Dan!
I loved this post today. Thanks. Everyday is like opening a gift !
Wow! Thanks Nancy.
I’m trying so hard to buy into this one. I love the description of the 3 inner circle. Bingo. That must be the difference. Unfortunately my experience hasn’t witnessed this. I’ve only witnessed leaders who insist on lapdogs and isolate themselves from all others.
I know it is impossible for the CEO of General Motors to talk to everyone. (However, now that she is a woman there may be more of that going on).
But my Polly Anna self still wants a leader who is accessible to all. Sorry, it’s my dream. I don’t like feeling like only a few know what is really going on.
Thanks Dauna. Your concerns are valid. If an inner circle is an excuse to disconnect with others it’s going to fail.
My experience is the inner circle actually helps me connect with others. I can work out my frustrations with them, find a healthy orientation toward problems, and accept the perspectives of people who disagree.
It’s sad but true that an inner circle who is just an upper-crust ends up being a bunch of crumbs stuck together.
I had a boss who periodically as a reward would get us face time with the inner-circle of his boss. It made us totally energized and ready to charge through walls to accomplish things. It made us feel we were listened to, important, and relevant and that we owned solutions.
Thanks Billgncs. I’m thinking about an interview I’m giving this Monday. I may use your story as an illustration. Thanks!
thanks — it really changed me, made me realize that while I was thinking operationally, they were thinking strategically – and allowed me to grow.
Can you give clarity or a real world example for #8 “Loyalty”? That can be a charged and misinterpreted word in my experience.
Thanks James. Great point.
When I originally wrote the post, I wrote unreserved loyalty. But, that sounds like a group of people who are covering each other’s butts.
I think of loyalty as people committed to each other’s success. That includes confronting mistakes. Loyalty is sticking with someone even when you see their weaknesses. I don’t think it means covering for unethical or immoral behaviors.
It’s a big topic isn’t it? You got my mind whirling.
I appreciate the post. I’m a newly appointed pastor of a church where most of the members are new. The inner circle of 3 will work in any size of an organization. Great insight.
Thanks Jeff. If you look at the inner circle of Jesus you may find some useful insights. 🙂
Few powerful concepts are worth to apply. Character comes first, not to worry about jealous people, and hard to manage is better than easy. They are universally applicable concept across geographies. But, people people prefer opposite. Even many leaders desire opposite. Based on my experience, I learned that people prefer other qualities first like technical competence, relationship, connection and most importantly flattery. Character is placed at back seat. Secondly, we tend to worry too much about others who questions, jealous or do not like what we do. We try to make effort to convince or please them. This is something natural with many people that hinders or diverts effort. Finally, we tend to invite and appreciate people who always say “Yes” and generally do not question our decisions. Examples are plenty. In politics, businesses and society, I have seen such traits.
However, true leaders understand it and take path which has larger concern. They do not follow the path just to fulfill their desire or interest rather they are concerned about bigger cause. And these qualities make leader high-powered leaders.
Briliant post, Dan!
We find two types of information out there: one is made of academic or descriptive models that we can use when we’re sitting in the bleachers to analyze what’s happening.
The other kind consists of action models that we can use when we’re on the field and we intend to win the game.
This post belongs to the second kind. I own a chain of bakeries in Northern Brazil and these are the kinds of quick distinctions that will help me in making decisions in the future.
I found you on Zite and look forward to reading you from this point forward.
Excellent article, however I would suggest choosing these three confidants using a different criteria. For me I have done this based on archetypes, the trusted adviser that has a heart for the organizations people and the good of all. The warrior – afraid of nothing, who through experience is able to take calculated risks and who understands the policitcal frame. The magician or supreme administrator who understands the processes and systems of the business and has a mind suited for attention to detail.
I think excluding others without considering the jealous, is a mistake as these people can turn into organizational sabotours if they feel like they have been left out. Its a mistake to underestimate the power of a slight to another’s ego. Some people have long memories.
I am so lucky to have found you at this point in my life. As a Principal Intern every day is a learning experience. In the past I have been a member of this inner circle. Now learning how to form one is quite a task. You make it less daunting and much more real. Thank you!
Reblogged this on MacCoach.
weaknesses are strength in disguise..nice pick for me?
Reblogged this on Movers, Shakers, Leadership Makers.
Really good stuff.
I enjoyed the article and the dialog. I strongly agree that the team you surround yourself with will make or break your success. It’s a fine line: finding individuals who have more loyalty to the company than to themselves (maybe that’s me coming from a sales background and being surrounded by sales people); however, when you do find them, it’s amazing how much can be accomplished! I also find the comment about “not huddling in public” too often to be a crucial point. Amazingly enough, “huddling in public” or behind closed doors can certainly turn enough of the team off that you lose everything you’ve worked so hard for. Thanks for the good reading!
Thanks Dan. Two quotes particularly resonated with me – “Don’t huddle in public” and “The enemy of success is isolation.” These relate well to a book I have started writing about collaboration. I have had some very enriching conversations on social media re the difference between collaboration and cooperation. I’d love you input. As part of my book writing launch (ie at the start of my writing rather when the book is finished) I am focusing on asking volunteers to collaborate their ideas and this is working really well. I like the idea of a personal board of directors or inner circle, especially with diversity – a key for good collaboration.
We have an inner circle in my current job that aligns amazingly with your characteristics, and it is powerful, energizing and fun!
I disagree with one area of your writing, however: doing it alone. I believe you can be successful independently – depending on the work, how long you need to sustain it, and your motivation. It does come at a cost you must recognize and be willing to pay. Because it needed to be done, I “did it alone” as a leader in an area for over ten years successfully, and emerged from it a stronger person who cherishes cooperation much more. Thanks for your insights.
first i thank you the post ; it is very interested and i have exposure to see this style of leadership in my previous job. so it appreciate the same paradigm of all the team ; but in large organization is it appropriate in order to achieve the aim? is it Good for human capital accumulation? i know when we go more less isolation but some large organization use for there own personal interest and the secrete of politics. how we struggle it.
thank you .