Every leader has two to five people in their inner circle. In big companies, the number of inner-circle confidants could total up to 10. Same with politicians. Any member in the inner circle is close to power, can influence decisions or deals.
In many cases, ‘the official’ wife of the leader has significant influence over the boss, regardless of their level of education. That is the human condition. Followed by the members of the inner circle, like loyal cadres or folks who run the errands on behalf of the leader. Also, the children of the leader have some influence over him or her.
The rule of thumb is anyone with unlimited access to the boss, can easily influence them. Even the house helps at the home of the boss if they easily access and get airtime (talk) with them, can influence a decision! But this article is not about influencing the boss. It is about how to join the big man’s or woman’s inner circle – the room where the big decisions are made, and deals closed.
There is no magic formula to join the inner circle because it is not easy. It takes patience, consistency, and discipline. It may take you over 10 to 20 years to be admitted into the inner circle. To achieve that, you must be i) loyal, ii) trustworthy and iii) avoid surprising your boss.
Loyalty. No leader can survive without a team of loyal people. I am talking about folks with blind loyalty. You must always have your boss’s interests before your own. You must be willing to lose your life for your boss if need be. You must show high-level support and or allegiance to your boss without question or conditions. You must be faithful that no one can change your position to compromise the interests of your boss, ever. And above all, you must remain loyal whether your boss knows or does not know or will never know. It is just the quality of being loyal. And that calls for someone with values and principles against which they take decisions. Any leader is always looking out for very loyal people who are not selfish. Are you one of them? Of course, no one can be loyal if they are not trustworthy!
Trustworthy. You must be a keeper of secrets. Leaders do so many bad things. No single decision can be good for all concerned. Members of the inner circle discuss many things and schemes of how to achieve their objectives. If you are one of them, you must be trustworthy. No leader wants to hear their business discussed in the media or outside the inner circle. The signs the leader trusts you they send you on personal errands. Then they continue giving you tasks that are personal or disclosing to you their worries and challenges. The more leaders take you closer to their private or personal lives, then you are heading to the inner circle. Do not spoil your chance. Being available, trustworthy, and always leaving whatever you are doing to serve the boss will give you a direct ticket to your boss’s heart. Remember, just one small act that may show mistrust could ruin yours over 10 years of having been trying to build the trust. So, go in for the long haul. And be consistent.
No surprises. No boss loves unnecessary surprises. For this reason, to gain a ticket into the inner circle, you must have a habit of providing on-going updates to your boss. Never get tired of timely communication. Tell the boss about the people you are going to meet. Tell the boss about the emails you have sent. Tell the boss about your girlfriend. Inform the boss about your challenges and achievements. Tell him or her about your aspirations. Tell them about the person who calls you often. Tell the boss about your need to enrol in a new course. Let him in about your upcoming trip. I mean, be an open book. Tell the boss about any detail, even when you think it is personal and it does not matter. It always matters to the boss. Imagine your boss gets to learn from someone else that you are about to graduate with a master’s degree in Law, which he or she did not know about! They would instantly consider you as a “knife of two edges” who probably is considering how to take over their job. Keep in mind that the most insecure person is your boss. You must make them be in charge, else they will be threatened.
Now you know why it is not easy to be part of the inner circle.
There are many other qualities I may have not considered. But my interaction with many leaders shows that loyalty is top on the list. Anything else can be fixed or outsourced. But not loyalty. With has a lot to do with attitude and integrity. A truly loyal person has the right attitude and is a person of integrity – the top skills which cannot be taught.
Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved