The Next Step
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

Graduation time is upon us, and countless long-robed orators will be giving advice to newly minted graduates. Advice about reaching for the stars, pursuing your dreams, and fulfilling your destiny. They mean well, and the speeches may be very inspirational, but what will be the lasting effects of their orations? What will linger in graduates’ hearts and minds after the last celebration fades into the reality of daily life?

What advice could we give the newly minted leader? What would be the next step after landing that job or promotion? Is there something that could burn brightly day after day? It may not be sexy, exciting, or sound motivational, but intentionally building their inner circle will serve them well for decades. Below is the advice I would give a newly minted leader (or really anyone).

The first thing to remember is to build your inner circle before you need them. Start by identifying your own giftedness. Your giftedness is something you will be good at and enjoy doing. Once you’ve identified your giftedness, begin to list areas where you need support and feedback. You will want to find people who have varied and complementary gifts. These people will be invaluable to you as they work as your sounding board and personal advisors. Remember, one is too small a number to achieve anything of substance. A leader’s potential is determined by the people closest to her.

Your inner circle needs to be loyal to you, and you build loyalty by being loyal to them. Never talk behind their backs, and never tolerate anyone else speaking ill of others. The Golden Rule is THE rule in interacting with others. Treat others the way you want to be treated. When in doubt, check your plan against The Golden Rule.

For years, I wrestled with insecurity and worried that it would reflect poorly on me if I hired people smarter than me. Thankfully, I outgrew that insecurity and started looking for people who were smarter than me. I finally realized that I could learn from them, and they could learn from me. As I wrote earlier, A leader’s potential is determined by the people closest to her. Build that inner circle, and your team will be positioned to achieve great things.

If you would like to hear more about building your inner circle, please join Marisa Norcross and me for Episode 205 of The Next Page podcast as we discuss key steps to getting the most out of these relationships.

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