Leaders Need Support, Too
20 copies available!!
Leave a comment on this guest post by Libby Hoffman to become eligible for one of 20 complimentary copies of her new book The Answers Are There: Building Peace from the Inside Out.
Deadline for eligibility is 11/12/2022. International winners will receive electronic version.
As a leader, you are likely focused on enhancing others’ work and results. But focusing solely on others’ needs sets you up for burnout. To ensure your ability to support others over the long haul, consider creating a community of support for yourself.
As a nonprofit leader, I realized the importance of this and gathered a “Wisdom Circle” to support me as a person and a leader. Regular gatherings, whether in person or virtual, refresh my vision, sharpen my discernment, and renew my energy for my work.
How to build support with a wisdom circle:
Identify people who are invested in your success and aligned with your values. These may be people formally involved in your organization or not – but they should see and support the best in you. Invite them to be a part of your support network.
Create uninterrupted time, away from your day-to-day work, and a dedicated space to meet with your wisdom circle. Depending on your budget, this may be virtual but if resources allow, being in-person is powerful.
Allow others to help and hold you. Receiving support from others requires vulnerability. In convening my first wisdom circle, it took self-knowledge to recognize my need, confidence to ask for help, faith to trust others could provide it, and humility to receive the support.
Make wisdom circle gatherings a regular part of your leadership journey. Receiving from others is not a one-time activity. Instead, you need to refuel along the way, getting regular support from others in order to continue your own leadership and service.
Finding support will ensure you can lead over the long haul, balancing your own needs with the needs of those you serve, and creating a cyclical flow of support that nourishes everybody.
Do you have a circle of wise supporters to turn to on your leadership journey?
If not, who might you invite to be part of your support network?
Libby Hoffman is the founder and president of Catalyst for Peace, co-founder of Fambul Tok (family talk) in Sierra Leone, and author of The Answers Are There: Building Peace from the Inside Out. Learn more at www.LibbyHoffman.com.
It’s hard sometimes to build a network when you are starting your leadership journey, mentoring can help. Ultimately though I think it helps if you can link with a more experienced leader to support your own development
I have found coaching to be a huge support, as well. It made a huge difference for me as a leader. The process shored up confidence and I was able to think deeply about issues that I may not have taken the time to do otherwise.
Thank you for sharing the concept of the wisdom circle! I agree asking for support requires vulnerability. There are a lot more people out there who are invested in your success than you think.
I have been reading several new books on leadership and this one is inviting since it mentions using wisdom several times. Wisdom is very important in being a great leader.
Great post, I have a high school club centered around leadership building and I utilize these posts often. We have our “team captains” and we try to hold monthly meetings
Finding the people and the places to be vulnerable is a critical part of leadership. It’s a two way street – as you find people that can help you when you’re down, the depth of the relationships brings out more in the others. Our work is about relationships. Period. That’s it. That’s the list.
Currently, I would say I have a very small wisdom circle. I meet with two other professionals in my field on a monthly basis and all of the things Libby described “allow them to help and hold you” definitely meet the mark. Looking forward to checking out the book!
I remember Zig Ziglar had a story about birds flying south for the winter. I don’t remember all the details but the moral was that the formation often changes so they ‘rest the leader’. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn but I am improving.
Spot on! I encourage a Wisdom Circle to include mostly people outside of your Organization to avoid it becoming a Critique Circle of other Management people and initiatives. Within the Agency you have opportunities to work and support each other via Teams and Committees. Let the ‘outsiders’ speak their objective truth to you.
Couldn’t agree more that leaders need support as well. Even if you don’t have the title, but you are a leader of your family, social club or friend group…we all need the support of others.
We can all use wisdom circles these days!
Love this concept and opportunity for leadership support through the creation of ongoing wisdom circles!
It can be difficult to allow yourself to be vulnerable to others, especially if you don’t have that like minded philosophy or ideology. BUT, it is imperative to allow yourself to show vulnerability as it helps build that trust within a special group of people
My current Pres/CEO had a long standing advisory group and I have long talked about my Inner Circle. This group from within and outside my organization are always my go to folks – from reviewing a letter to working through difficult HR issues. Select folks are certainly filled with more wisdom based on the topic…..would love to expand that circle to be even more impactful!
This is so true! True servant leaders can get burnout if they do not feel that much needed support. Some people call it a book club, others have a small circle of girlfriends that get together regularly and others have trusted leaders they look to for when they are not feeling as strong as they should be or starting to feel that burn out. I read a comment that Hoda Kotb shared in her book. There’s a difference between being tired and weary and the difference between getting enough sleep and getting enough rest for the soul. Thanks again for sharing these points! I’d love to read your book! Marisa Weisinger
Leaders are expected to have an “S” on their chest. Leaders are human, trying to work to the best of their ability to be appreciated, seen and respected. Great and exceptional leaders never take a break because they don’t know how. Leaders need to rest the body, mind and soul to be the best them.
I love the idea of having a support circle and the importance of them being invested in you. This is especially helpful when your confidence fades or you have doubt. They can see in you what you may not see and help to bring it out. The difficulty is finding genuine people who aren’t secretly sabotaging you due to jealousy if it appears that you’re getting ahead and they aren’t.
I would say it’s in your intent, and the intent of those you’ve gathered to support you. The power isn’t the structure itself per se – but in what you’re looking for from it, and in what you’re asking for from others. What you look for is what you get.
And the difference between a wisdom circle and a collection of sycophants and rear-end kissers is…?
(meant my comment above as a reply to this comment – reposting here). I would say it’s in your intent, and the intent of those you’ve gathered to support you. The power isn’t the structure itself per se – but in what you’re looking for from it, and in what you’re asking for from others. What you look for is what you get.
Love the idea of the “Wisdom Circle.” It’s amazing how simple it seems in theory and how often we hear it – put on your oxygen mask before helping others, focus on your best self to offer your best self to others, you can’t care for others if you aren’t caring for yourself – but as leaders we’re all too aware how hard it can be to practice. When the demands of our daily lives – work and life – are asking so much of us, it’s the easy choice sometimes to sacrifice of ourselves. However, eventually it catches up to us. Wise counsel can be very informal, and it can be as simple as simply getting an outsider’s feedback or venting confidentially to someone you trust (usually best when it’s someone a few steps outside your work circle/organization). Putting ourselves out there allows for others to speak in and that’s where we experience some of our best opportunities for growth. Additionally, I like to work in some prayer and faith-led reflection to seek wisdom as our souls are in our work as well.
Having a wisdom circle/support network is a great idea. I’m glad I have mine, but I wish I would have had one years ago.
Thanks Libby! A circle is a wonderful structure / metaphor. And it can begin with just ‘one’ other, and grow. Prioritising this area of personal support and development is a biggie for me.
I appreciate having people inside and outside my company as mentors in my wisdom circle. And I don’t look to one mentor for every aspect of life. I try to learn a something from a few different people.
I fully support this concept. Being vulnerable is hard for leaders. We are supposed to be the one with the resolution to the problems and sometimes it is difficult to ask for support and admit to shortcomings. But, if you have a good circle, then it becomes easier the next time and more powerful.
Leadership can be a lonely journey. It’s hard to be vulnerable, however this is been a trait of all the great leaders that I look up too. I appreciate having people that are trusting, actively listen and rise to the occasion as needed.
Having a Wisdom Circle with the RIGHT people is KEY! Finding others that are bold enough to challenge you, care enough to continually pour into you and wise enough to share golden nuggets with you makes all the difference. I am so thankful to have a strong posse that surrounds me.
Great read and reminder we all need support.
“Receiving support from others requires vulnerability” is such a powerful statement. Leaders are often to busy “leading” they fail to recognize when they need support from others. And those that do recognize it, often ignore it as they do not want to be perceived as vulnerable.
So true but so hard. Everyone seems to be struggling these days and sometimes it feels like there is not anyone nearby to reach out to because you are afraid of the struggles they are having. Plan to use this today with my team at work. Thanks!
Good reminder and validation that we all need support.
There is no shame in being human. There is no shame in being vulnerable. Leaders who display both humanity and vulnerability provide an great example to followers. No one should expect perfection.
This is such a good idea. I am facing burn-out and was really searching for a soluționa. This came like an answer rrom above. Thanks.
I love the idea of a wisdom circle. I have never heard that term before. I can’t wait to read more. Thank you.
This is so important for all. I find I have my circle outside of work but for different purposes. Definitely connect with a few for professional development and thoughts but something we should do more of.
Pausing for dedicated focus seems counter intuitive but is critical for leadership.
Finally! Leaders need growth and support as well. Thank you for this. I am excited to read the full version.
There must be something instinctive about this concept as I have the framework and beginnings of a wisdom circle myself without knowing it is something to aspire to. I look forward to consciously building this. Thank you for sharing!
Wow! I know there are individuals who have offered support and that I’ve called on from time to time but I have never considered anything as amazing as a wisdom circle. I can just imagine how enlightening it could be to have those that support and nurture me along this journey in the same place. Thank you for this idea
I am one of the newest managers at the organization and sometimes I need assistance, wisdom and insight.
I love the name “wisdom circle”! I’ve always surrounded myself with people I trusted and could bounce ideas off of but agree that the formality of it and forming it early is helpful. Would love a copy of the cook as a resource
Leaders need to be dynamic connectors – via active listening and collaboration. Leaders need to be self-aware to be influenced by others, and to impact the behaviors of others. Self-reflection leads to self-discoveries.
I think the hardest part of allowing yourself to be vulnerable and open is taking that initial step. Once you’ve experienced the positive side of it and begin experiencing the benefits (and yes there are many) you won’t want to go it alone. Together is better!
Such a great perspective. Leaders have faced additional challenges the last 2 1/2 years. The uninterrupted time away from work with the right people is so valuable but not always easy to do.
We are created to need community. Finding a reliable support team and trusting that team is so important. To truly support others, we need to fill our tank and find the source of peace. Leading others often requires emptying of self. However, I find when we pour out ourselves for others we get that same support in return.
Nice insights here. Communities of practice of peers that can support your development is key to continuous and lifelong learning for leaders.
Definitely interested in learning more about this concept. I have a wonderful group of mentors, but the structure for growth and support has been lacking as of late. The pace of our work has changed significantly in the last couple of years. We need to refocus our energy on our team.
Great post. While I definitely have a “wisdom group”, it far more informal than I realised. I love the idea of making a more concerted effort to meet with my group. My wheels are already turning on how I can make this happen.
It’s strange how the universe provides when you listen. I was just thinking this the other day. We are charged with uplifting those around us. But how to we put fuel back in our tank? Who is lifting us up? The sin of pride whispers “you don’t need anyone encouraging you”, but I know that’s not right either. Good to hear that it’s OK to seek help when your energy needs a recharge.
Absolutely agree, a wisdom circle is an essential need of a leader!
I love the idea of a support network. I have been neglecting joining local Director network meeting as they tend to happen during the most demanding part of the day. I used to be a part of a networking group/support group of other Director leading programs under the same authority as mine. With Covid and staffing issues I have neglected getting back into those connections and do feel myself burning out. Thank you for reminding me with this post how much I miss having support and understanding.
So true! I want to give this book to my boss and tell her I’m with her. The challenge to be an overachiever and allow others to match themselves!
Would love this for a shared book read at work!
Oh my, do I need this! I have so much to learn about a Wisdom Circle as self care. I look forward to reading this book.
I originally found leadership to be lonely, until I found my own wisdom circle. I have recently changed jobs an need to identify who meets the needs in my current role. I would love to read more!
This post was for me a wakeup call. To recognize the need for a wisdom circle requires a step away from the ego that shouts “You don’t need any help! You can do this. Don’t be a wimp!” Instead it is an act of clarity and inner strength to discern one’s needs as a leader before the burnout . Everyone will benefit when leaders choose wise circles . This message inspired me in a fairly new role as a spiritual leader who didn’t want to appear “weak” by asking for help. Instead it is the truly strong who have the courage to know when to ask and who to ask. “Leaders Need Support Too” sounds like a must read. .
I wrote my first book in 2019 called prior to Covid- “The Journey of Self-Care from the Inside Out” and the intent of my message was to help leaders have a sustained impact.
I shared some suggestions for leaders in ministry/marketplace that may add value to the context of this amazing message:
Consider these suggestions to work towards change in your life for self-care from a crisis.
Please spend some time trying to sort out what is essential in your life and why it is crucial.
What is it that you want to achieve in your life? What are your dreams? What makes you fulfilled?
o Remember you are the change you need for your own life
o Create a Board Directors for your life
o Make peace with your past
o Develop your personal Prayer life
o Begin reading more personal development Books
o Remember to make sure your plans align with God’s plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV).
I hope some value is added and thank you for all you do!
Great read! I have a couple of close friends who operate as a “wisdom circle” for me. It is a huge help in personal development and accountability.
It would be wonderful to have a “Wisdom Circle”. I certainly need that circle.
As a leader I find it hard to be venerable and knowing who you can truly trust within a circle. I do believe that humble leaders are venerable and what I’ve found is that some will use that venerability as weakness or an inability to lead.
One thing that I have done for my wisdom circle is to get people that are different than me. I also ask for honesty and directness. I don’t need someone that is afraid to hurt my feelings.
This is a good idea. I am a social worker supervising social workers and we sort of have this intrinsically built support system among our teams, but there is little room for leaders to gather together and support each other in our community.
Merci beaucoup pour cette expérience de cercle de sagesse et du la force qu’on en tire et bénéficie . C’est vraiment nécessaire ;je pense en avoir un sans m’en être rendue compte . J’aimerai être parmi les 20 personnes à bénéficier du livre . Merci beaucoup pour cette idée géniale
This is a wonderful post. I’m curious on how a person goes about finding their wisdom circle. We talk a lot in our family on how we each person needs something that nourishes them in order to pour into others.
It has been my observation that mid level managers, typically in Director roles, are less likely to receive needed support – insufficient onboarding seems to be a common theme. This has inspired me to provide strong support to direct reports on my team, and build good processes and documented policies. And I have adopted a better practice of self-care, too.
I love the image created in my mind when hearing the reference to creating a Wisdom Circle. A circle is continuous and connected, perfect around its entire shape. My Circle is scattered throughout the US but always available when the time comes or a need arises for have conversations through any communication platform.
Very telling and timely topic. I do not have a wisdom circle and I am actually looking to build one now… better late than never. What I found most powerful was the action – to allow others to help and hold you. For many, many years this was foreign to me. I though being strong at work meant that this action was a severe weakness. Now I wish I had paid more attention to this on my leadership journey but I’ve seen where it can be refreshing and very helpful. Would love to read through the book, sounds like an investment for myself and my team for the future.
This is so important for all leaders but especially new leaders who may need more support in navigating the school culture, traditions and spirit.
I have practiced this for years. I have both internal and external “betterment partners.” It one thing I awalys recommend when meeting with fellow leaders is to build your circle.
Thank you for shining a light on wisdom circles. For al leadership journey to be a greatly rewarding and fulfilling one, one often needs the guidance of mentors and the support of fellow colleagues. A Wisdom Circle can provide support and ensure that your leadership practice deepens and strengthens. It is a safe space to share your journey, learn from the insights of others, and renew your practice when you need motivation.
This is so right on. A circle like the author described can save your life..
Would like to check it out to see if it would be a good gift for this Christmas
A wisdom circle seems so worthwhile for so many things in addition to leadership. Parenting comes to mind, one of the toughest jobs without instructions!
This is an important topic as it is neglected. There are always duties and charges for leaders yet there is minimal efforts of support. Compassion fatigue is a thing for leaders as well. I find this book and topic critical that fills a void.
Very timely reminder that leaders need to be vulnerable and supported. Can’t wait to read this book!
Another reason to develop mentors. Can’t wait to read the book.
This article is so relatable, especially in today’s world. I would love to be able to dive in and read the book to learn more :).
It’s good to be human.
No better time than now to establish a much needed wisdom circle.
I wholeheartedly agree with the need to have a professional support group. I am an elementary principal in a district that has 4 elementary schools and the 4 of us principals have created a support team for one another. I was calling it our “Administrators’ Anonymous” (AA) group, but I like the term “Wisdom Circle” even better. I’m going to propose that we start using that title for our meetings instead!
I especially found the notion of identifying people who are invested in your success and aligned with your values very meaningful. A group that I am currently associated with supports each and everyone of its members’ successes. Being a part of a group who share your values is refreshing.
This book is needed! I am a Leader in 2 different areas and the support for a leader is crucial!
I love the idea of scheduling uninterrupted time, away from our day-to-day work, and a dedicated space to meet with our wisdom circle. During the pandemic, I was pretty good about that because I desperately craved the connection and the ideas exchange. But as things started to “go back to normal,” our schedules all of a sudden became packed with work and times for these conversations disappeared. Thanks for the reminder. I need to find time and bring them back!
I love the term “wisdom circle”. I think that the times I have felt the highest burnout is when I lose those co-workers whom I have this trust with. I have never thought about it formally, but looking back when someone I befriended has left, it makes my days long and hard. By creating a more formal wisdom circle, it may avoid this. I should reach back out as just because they left my company, doesn’t mean I lose them as a friend and support.
I also think about this as I am transitioning bosses and work teams. My current team has been very supportive, and I will have to work hard to bring this to my next work team as well. I find it challenging when I am joining a pre-established team, but with intention and effort, I hope to make my new team as wonderful as my current one!
I call the “wisdom circle” my personal Board of Directors.
I do not have a “wisdom circle”. What an interesting concept. In government leadership, the lengthy and redundant “chain of command” makes for an interesting obstacle for support of new supervisors.
Thank you for sharing the idea of a “wisdom circle.” I have those that I turn to for guidance and direction, but never pieced together the thought of putting name to them.
I would love one of those books!
Great advice. I have people that I can turn to for leadership advice and I also subscribe to a variety of blogs where I can get ideas and/or help for a challenge. Thank you for sharing.
Totally on sides with this. A few of my former managers have become part of my circle that I can turn to for advice and leadership help. It’s been helpful for me to have people I can reach out to and bounce ideas off of or to talk me off a ledge.
Leaders need support just like any other member of the team. Moreover, as leadership is a skill that you constantly work at but never completely attain, a support network is critical to your continuing growth. Great thoughts for the day here Dan, thank you!