Daily pressure. Expectations. Overwhelm. Responsibility. Challenges. People. Opinions. Business. Personal preferences. Family challenges. And much more. Balancing others’ expectations, professional choices and personal life can be tough at times. And somewhere behind fancy clothes, big house and recognition in community you know that things are not as pretty as you wish they were.
Broken relationships. Personal challenges. Things money can’t buy laughing in your face.
How can you find balance between who you want to be – a great leader making things happen and who you truly are – an imperfect human being with your own limitations?
Where can you find a safe space to be who you truly are, to voice your concerns, ask questions, be challenged and stretched to new heights?
There were times in my own life when I felt alone as a leader. Alone to make tough decisions and resolve the situations. I thought that leaders are lone rangers bracing the way for others. I thought it’s a curse of leadership to be lonely.
But I was wrong!
You don’t have to do it alone.
In fact, if you do, you will limit yourself. And by limiting yourself you will limit those you lead.
As a leader, you need to be intentional about increasing your own leadership level. You need to create an inner circle of people who will help you grow to the new heights.
The question isn’t whether you should have inner circle. The question is how you can create it and who will get the invitation.
I wrote an article on this topic couple months ago, looking at the inner circle from the team perspective. But today I want to look at your personal inner circle. John C. Maxwell said it brilliantly: “It’s hard to improve when you have no one but yourself to follow.”
Here are 5 types of people you you need in your inner circle…
1. Role model
I find it incredibly valuable to have people who model the behaviour, action and results I want to see in my life. These are the people who impact me without even knowing about me. They live their lives, speak at events, write blogs and post on social media, share their lives for me to be inspired and hopefully transformed. Their stories, character or courage makes me go further and press through. I don’t want to be them, but I am inspired by them. Who models behaviour or results you want to see in your life? Learn how they got to that point, be inspired and make your way.
Just like role models, mentors are people who set a worthy example. But what makes them different is that they also make themselves available to you. Mentoring is a relationship. It’s a two-way road. Mentoring brings empowerment. Mentors equip and empower the person. There are couple things you want to look for when choosing a mentor.
- Mentor needs to be better or more successful than you. You don’t want to learn from bad or average person.
- Mentor needs to be an engaged listener. Without listening, they will not be able to fully understand your situation, leadership challenges or navigate you in the right direction.
- Mentors ask great questions. Questions are the keys that unlock the locked door of opportunity. Questions lead to understanding, connection and improvement.
- Great mentor has a humility. Mentor has to have enough humility to share his or her failures. Success stories impress people, but failure stories impact people. Humility creates an environment for learning and development.
Couple areas where you can add mentorship into your life: faith, relationships, leadership, health, and many more.
I believe in partnerships. They are not always easy (just look at the number of broken marriages), but when they survive the winds and storms, they make us better at the end. When I think of partnerships, I look back at the times when I was starting a non-profit organization. It was extremely challenging – unchartered territory, lots of unknowns, unexpected challenges, but also huge victories. I would never be able to do it alone. I had amazing partners on my side. A co-founder who stood by my side with advise and ready to pull the workload. My hubby who helped with advice and financial support. Advisor who supported me every step of the way with her advice and experiences. I might have been the face behind the organization, but it took a team effort to make it all happen.
Who is in your corner, cheering you on, supporting you and helping you out? Who can you count on when things get tough or in the midst or emergency? Don’t do it alone. Build your inner circle! Oh, and keep in mind that sharing same values is an important part of building strong partnerships that last.
Friends might not be above you. They might not even be at your level. But friends bring encouragement and fun into life. Friends make life worth living. Friends might not be able to help you professionally, but they can make you a better person.
You might have a title or a position, but you are not a true leader until you positively impacted someone else’s life. One of the greatest calls of leadership is to empower others. Yes, as a leader you impact your team, organization, stakeholders, but there still is a greater way to lead. That is to find a mentee to pass your lessons learned on to.
Leadership is a relay. You must pass the baton to win. If you climb to the top of the mountain and no one is following you, you are not a leader. You are a climber. Choose to be a leader. Choose to invest your time, skillset, talent and energy into someone who has the capacity and is hungry to grow. Mentees enlarge your life and your legacy. They make your message to outlive you.
Let’s have a closer look at your own leadership. Are you a lone ranger or do you have an inner circle? How can you improve your inner circle this week? Who is missing in your inner circle? How can you strengthen the existing relationships? Where can you find the new ones and how will you build these connections? How much time will you allocate to building your inner circle?