In his book Power – Why Some People Have it and Others Don’t, Jeffrey Pfeffer acknowledges the mistaken belief that there is a strong tie between job performance and career outcomes. On the contrary, not only does good performance not guarantee you will maintain a position of power and influence, poor performance does not guarantee you will lose a position of power and influence. Why is this so?
Success is never a ME thing – it is always a WE thing. One of the secrets of highly successful people is that they become extremely adept at, little by little over time, accumulating leverage and access to resources. The only way to do this is to build powerful relationships with people of influence. To be successful, you must build a trusted inner network of influencers who can guide you through the maze of complex decision-making, and you must build a wider external network to afford you access to power and resources. In this blog, the focus will be on building a trusted inner network – what we will refer to as your SUCCESS TEAM.
In Change Anything, the authors point out that one of the six key influencers in our lives are the people we allow in our inner circle. They help to determine our view of what’s normal. In that vein, a requirement of success is to have people in your inner circle who have a habit of success. As such, I have a few trusted people I rely on to provide guidance, increase my knowledge, evaluate my short and long term strategies, and provide specific feedback that will enable my continued success. If you don’t have a SUCCESS TEAM, you increase your odds of failing to overcome adversity when it inevitably rears its ugly head. Who should be a part of your SUCCESS TEAM? Here are the 8 key roles:
The Mentor – This person has reached a level of success you aspire to achieve, and is willing to share the strategies s/he used to achieve success and overcome the mistakes made along the way. Milton T. has been my primary mentor since 1993, and the contributions he has made to my success are priceless.
The Coach – Coaches guide you in areas where your skills, knowledge, and/or abilities are under-developed. Several coaches have come and gone in my life over the years, and they all share one thing in common – diversity. My newest coach – George V., is a fantastic coach who hails from Australia, is of Greek heritage, and has extensively lived and worked all over the world. His diverse perspectives and viewpoints always educate and inspire me.
The Realist – This person “keeps it real”. They don’t squash your dreams; they make them better by challenging your thinking and assumptions. In addition to my fiancé, Pam S. is my realist. I’ve known her since she was in high school, and I trust her not only as a dear friend – she happens to be a very successful professor of accounting – so she always asks me the right types of objective questions, which I highly value.
The Connector – In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell refers to Connectors as the people who know everyone. Their social capital is immense, and their network connections are required to open doors and enable your dreams. Ginny G., Latoya T., and Jim S. all key connectors for me. Talking and learning from them is always a rush, and watching them in action is always a thrill.
The Supportive Significant Other – Your spouse or significant other must be supportive of your dreams because without their support, when adversity comes, s/he will become one of your biggest critics at a time you need their encouragement. It took me 40 years to find her, and my fiancé is the perfect match for me in every aspect of my life.
The Industry Expert – This person is a recognized leader in the industries you operate in, and s/he can provide invaluable insights to help you anticipate change and exploit niches that play to your strengths. Tony B., Howard P., ASTD staff, members of current and past ASTD National Advisors for Chapters committees, and several others help keep me headed in the right direction.
The Cheerleader – This person is your personal cheerleader, cheering you on, constantly lifting you up, and reaffirming your belief in overcoming all obstacles that you will encounter. Sung L. was my Tae Kwon Do instructor during my undergraduate days at Virginia Tech, and he continues to serve as one of my most outspoken cheerleaders. We meet regularly for lunch, and I always feel inspired after sharing ideas with him.
The Best Friend – Everybody has one, and everybody needs one. This person is someone you genuinely enjoy hanging out with, and they will do whatever it takes to support you and vice versa. George M. has been my best friend for over 25 years, and he will serve as my Best Man in my wedding in 2012.
Having people serve in these 8 roles will greatly enhance your short and long term success as they will become highly valued brand ambassadors for you just as my SUCCESS TEAM has for me. So do you have people serving in each of these roles? If not, start recruiting role players today. As George Eliot once said, it is never too late to be what you might have been.