From the Center for Strategic Relations, a twice-monthly supplement to Applying Strategic Relations, mailed at your request

Leading your Inner Circle

In the previous lesson, you learned how to select your inner circle. You should now have a list of members in your inner circle, plus details about the context of those relationships. Identifying these individuals is very important to your ability to benefit from this type of relationship.

This lesson teaches you how to gain the support of your inner circle to advance a mutual objective. You will discover how communications and community contribute to the actions people will take to advance mutual objectives.

The discussion forum closed last night for unpaid readers, but you can still send questions by email. Everything you read here is based on real experiences since 1992 and practical lessons often learned from the front lines of consulting with technology and professional services firms. It is a pleasure to provide your organization with the solutions it needs to create buying customers and loyal employees.

How can this newsletter help you with business relationship issues you face today? This includes relationships with employees, customers, or strategic partners. Reply including your comments and phone number if you would like a call back. Thank you for reading Inside Strategic Relations.


Justin Hitt
Consultant, Author & Speaker

Engendering Support of Your Inner Circle Relationships to Pursue Mutual Objectives

By Justin Hitt, Strategic Relations Consultant,

Business leaders use inner circle relationships to accomplish more, but must engage these individuals in the right way to earn cooperation and support. The close bonds formed are more important than any other relationship you as an individual might have in business. When inner circle relationships work, they propel forward the leaders' objectives and benefit the entire company.

No magic formula exists to bring people together in groups that advance a particular objective around a close network of connections. Instead, many factors contribute to close relationships. Two key factors to consider are how well you communicate with existing relationships and the clarity of your understanding of these communities.

Communicate Objectives in a Hearable Way

Clear communications is critical to influencing your inner circle. Members must know where you want to go, what resources you have to offer, and how you expect them to help.

Where You Want To Go

Members of your inner circle really do care where you want to go; many of them will even want to go with you. For them to understand what it is you are aiming for, you must tell them in terms they would be interested.

If you want to influence your inner circle, you must convey your objectives in terms of what motivates and benefits these individuals. It is a truism that no one does anything without it benefiting them or people close to them. Before you get any support, you must clearly state what is in it for them.

Do not expect your inner circle to support you if they do not understand what you want to accomplish. In the same prospective, if you do not understand your inner circle, how are you to know you have the right community of resources to reach your objective.

What Resources You Offer

To convince people to follow you, you need to share with them something of value. Starting with the resources you already have, invite your inner circle closer by filling the needs of those around you. Show your inner circle that you have something they want, that you understand their needs, and become a resource to your network.

This demonstration of what people stand to receive if they are involved with your mission draws people closer to you. These small actions demonstrate and reinforce the value of a relationship with you. From this point, you will stand a better chance of getting what you ask for.

In addition, it is important to communicate the benefits received by one part of your inner circle with another. Group members must see the benefits they might or expect to receive before many will take a chance participating with your effort.

How You Expect Them to Help

Once you have developed credibility, your inner circle will be more open to understanding what you expect of them. If you contribute anything to the people around you, they will want to help you, but must know what it is you expect them to offer.

Be careful here not to base your relationships on things you do with expectation of return. You will surely ruin a relationship this way; never do something out of your way with expectation of compensation without first making the other person aware of such. Strengthen local bonds with emphasis on your long-term objectives and create acceptance by openly understanding the needs of those around you.

Involve your inner circle by demonstrating your value then asking for specific resources under terms that are beneficial to all involved. When you involve your inner circle in developing mutual objectives it is appropriate to state the expectations of each party involved.

Gather a Community of Individuals with Similar Objectives

Regular communications with your inner circle, including introductions among members, develops a community of interest with common objectives participants identify with. For your inner circle to advance mutual objectives, you must observe it as a community of function with dynamic segments of interest, each with their own roles.

Functional Community Segments

Business groups segment into various roles supporting the needs of customers, contributors, and producers. Some parts of your inner circle will serve a common customer, others will provide solutions specifically to you, some are for their emotional support, and others serve your general industry. You will have to discover for yourself, which individuals fits into which segment.

Ideally, you want to create a share of customer that served by a clearly defined community of resources. The function of this type of community is to provide for the abstract desires of your customer base, which extends your resources and the objectives of the group. However, other types of groups will exist depending on the nature of your inner circle.

The best method to sort out functional community segments is to work with logical parts of the larger group documenting shared objectives. No matter how your inner circle is organized, each part must understand their function in the bigger picture if they are to advance mutual objectives. They must also see the specific benefit each group receives before they will take action that advances others.

Understanding Segments of Interest

Your inner circle of one-hundred will likely break down into 8 to 10 distinct interests related to the larger common objective. You will learn later, that it is your responsibility to facilitate the interactions between these groups. Right now it is important to understand their sub-interests if you expect them to support you.

While this seems overly complex, it is something you do every day. Its call working as a team, these teams form across company boundaries but support the same focus. Each group will have its own mission and might represent individuals from other organizations or various parts of your industry.

The key factors to understand are that each segment will have its own interests that contribute to larger mutual objectives. Interests could include common customers, similar financial obligations, or outside commitments. This is the level where you direct or influenced the actions of your inner circle.

Your Role in Community Action

Without direction, each segment will separate from the objectives of your inner circle and eventually the group will dissolve. Since this is your inner circle, it is important that you facilitate its development. The book Collaborative Communities (Dearborn Trade, 2001) describes your role in terms of a choreographer. This role is one that plans and oversees the details of a larger presentation, in this case the achievement of specific objectives.

As a choreographer, you collect shared experience, document resources, and direct the actions of the larger group. You set high standards for the accomplishment of the group actions, facilitate resources, and behave in a manner consistent with stated objectives. Even more importantly, you collect knowledge that advocates the advancement of every member of your inner circle.

Everyone wants to be a part of something larger than themselves, through this community of resources; you provide a tool to help these people get what they want. By giving them what they want, you gain the opportunity to get what you want. Your responsibility is to keep all the parts together and focused on a certain objective.

Build On a Foundation of Communications and Community

Start with the close relationships you already have, because they represent a small manageable group of individuals who you already know. As you communicate your ideas, you will find some individuals will not want to be a part of this community. That fine, focus is important to creating a level of quality that leads to influence.

If you find that you cannot get one-hundred people who want to support your objective, then perhaps you have not clearly developed it or it presents no value to them. At this point, return to the lessons taught in How to Choose Your Inner Circle Members (Inside Strategic Relations; January 15, 2004) to add or remove members, reorient your focus, and better understand how needs of people around you could match with your own.

With consistent communications inside a community of individuals with common objectives, you can gain the support of people around you. Influence comes as you demonstrate consistent behavior that advances the larger group. While there is not magic formula, there is no other way to engender support of your inner circle to pursue mutual objectives.

© 2004 JWH Consolidated LLC dba Center for Strategic Relations, All rights reserved.
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For a comprehensive checklist that helps you create powerful inner circle relationships. Includes points you must address in building, selecting, and earning the support of inner circle members. Order Inner Circle Relationships Checklist today, delivered by email

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