Who’s In Your Leadership Inner Circle?

My mom shared an impactful saying with me when I was in my teens. She said,

“You are the average of the five people with whom you most often associate.”

I don’t remember the specifics of the conversation, but I do know she was subtly telling me to continue to be smart in whom I chose to befriend. I’ve heeded her advice and it’s never let me down. This advice applies to us in the workplace and as leaders too.

In the workplace and as project managers, you are the average of the five people with whom you most often spend time, listen to, give your time and energy to, and become associated with. Who are you allowing to influence you, access your time, tap into your energy and wisdom, and impact your reputation and brand?

If you at all doubt the power of another person’s influence on you just by interacting with them, take a few seconds and visualize various team members with whom you’ve spent a fair amount of time just this week. Who energized you? Who caused you to take a deep calming breath? Who challenged you to think deeper, differently, or more objectively? 

Who made you laugh? Who surprised you with a skill you hadn’t seen before? Who gave advice that again proved sound? Who gave advice that, once again, was not sound? Who impressed you with the perfect reaction or appropriate response in a tense situation? Who embarrassed you? Who helped you? Who frustrated you or left you feeling taken advantage of or used? Who made you feel good during your time together, and who were you ready to get away from?

People you spend time with have a tremendous impact on your psyche, your attitude, your health, your ability to think clearly and make sound decisions...your ability to lead.

The point of this article isn’t to suggest you isolate yourself from colleagues, project team members, vendors, or customers who frustrate you. You can't. You lead projects. The point is to ensure you have a personal leadership inner circle of roughly five key people who positively impact your life as a leader. You may have a special someone who loves you and who understands and supports you in your leadership role. But who else are you intentionally allowing in and keeping in your inner leadership circle?

Your project team may be the source for a key individual or two to include in your inner circle, but your team shouldn’t be your only source. Reach outside your own project teams and organization to connect with others whom you trust and respect. Who do you want to get to know and learn from? Who understands you, your values, and your work world and is willing to tell you the hard truth?

Who are you willing to admit mistakes to and be vulnerable with? Who causes you to think deeper? Who brings new ideas from outside your organization and industry? Who is a voice of reason to help you think through challenging leadership, project, or team issues? 

Your leadership inner circle may be a combination of project team members, professional friends, colleagues, advisers, and mentors. It’s not a group that you bring together for formal gatherings. Instead, it’s a team of individuals you like, trust, respect, and admire and reach out to individuals as needs arise. You know who to call with an impromptu question. You know who you can let your guard down and laugh with about the idiocy of a recent team issue. You know who will drop everything and be available if needed.

Be smart in developing your inner circle, your leadership network, your key five. They’re people you’re proud to call colleagues and friends because knowing them makes you a better person. But, knowing you makes them better too.


About the Author

Liz Weber and her team work with leaders to create focused plans for their organizations' future. Then they work with the leaders to ensure their plans are implemented effectively.

Copyright MMXVIII - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – +1.717.597.8890

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