Growing Your Inner Circle

by  Will Lukang  |  Leadership Coaching
Growing Your Inner Circle

I’ll start this post with the quote by John Donne who said, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.”

Growing up I was taught that my grades were based on how I performed in school. I embraced the concept of single performer because I controlled my destiny.

In essence, I get what I put in. In order to be successful, I needed to compete with others. After each grading period, they would publish the ranking of the top 10, but folks knew where they stood.

In middle and high school, we learned to work on team projects. In this situation, the team’s success is based on the collective work the team produces. This is rather challenging because not everyone has the same goals and aptitudes. At times, a few folks have to pull things together because they don’t want to settle. But this exercise taught everyone how to work with one another and, through shared vision, to achieve a common goal.

Throughout my academic journey, I learned a lot about myself, my strengths and my weaknesses, and my ability to bounce back from each fall and stumble along the way. I also learned that there are subjects or topics that I struggled with. I did well enough but cannot be called an expert. At the same time, my classmates were doing well on those subjects that I struggled with. At that point, I learned about the need to ask other people for help to enable me to understand the material better. Study groups were of use while I was doing my MBA; I used them to review the material while adding value to others.

When I started my career, I was a single performer as a programmer. I excelled because of the hard work that I put in, acknowledging the fact that there are many folks that are smarter than me. I put in the time and burned midnight oil to catch up with everyone.

As I moved up the management ranks, I started forming my inner circle. What’s the basis for my selection?

  • Technical expertise that I don’t have
  • Business knowledge
  • Honest feedback and assessment to ensure that we are heading in the right direction
  • Industry insight that can help the team

Once you form your inner circle, you need to hold them accountable to ensure that all of you are heading in the right direction. Why is this important? If everyone shares the vision, it is easy to make progress, grow and develop. It is important to note that when a member does not share the common vision, they will be removed and replaced with someone else. This exercise of pruning and cleaning is essential to make sure that your inner circle is strong.

As I progress in my career, I make sure that I add value to my inner circle. I urge you to start forming your inner circle. Start learning from your inner circle and complement one another. Remember the power of collective knowledge will propel you to the next level.

Writing is labor of love. If you like this post, please share it with your friends.

What elements do you consider critical to inner circle status?
Photo Credit: Morguefile

About The Author

Articles By will-lukang
A dynamic, multi-faceted Information Technology Leader who demonstrates expertise in translating business needs into technology solutions that meet business objectives while developing strategies to optimize processes that improve efficiency and reduce costs. A certified coach, speaker and training from John Maxwell Team. A co-author of The Character-Based Leader.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Paula Kiger (Admin)  |  14 Apr 2015  |  Reply

I really enjoyed this post, Will. Especially — we need people in our inner circle who, as you said, complement our strengths and weaknesses — and will help us see ourselves honestly.

Will Lukang  |  15 Apr 2015  |  Reply


Many people failed to realize the importance of forming their inner circle. It enable them to grow and develop at the same time help the people around them.


Will Lukang

Page Cole  |  17 Apr 2015  |  Reply

Great article Will!

Question- can you give me some insight on ways to “add value to my inner circle”? It sounds great, but what are some concrete examples?

John E. Smith  |  18 Apr 2015  |  Reply

Hi, Will – nice article and in line with some thoughts I am developing.

First, I would comment that I use the phrase “circle of trust” to refer to those with whom I have developed a special relationship. This clearly reinforces an essential element of the relationship – trust.

I believe that your circle has to have two other elements beyond trust in order to function well:

1) You actively seek and give (what I was talking about above)

Like a circle, everyone standing around the campfire is equal … equal in what they have to offer and equal in what they need. Not in the details, but in the essence of both needing and having to share.

2) You connect other people within the circle to those to whom they need to be connected.

For quite a while, I considered my circle to be primarily my “Go To” people, who could help me. After a few embarrassing moments, I realized that I needed to ante up and contribute to them. Finally I noticed that person A might have something that person C needs. Nothing to do with me, except I know both people and can connect them.

Thanks for prodding my thinking today:)


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