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.

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