Circle of Support

The 7 Type of People You Need in Your Circle of Support
Emotional Intelligence
by Tyrone Dixon

When I am working one on one with a client, one of the very first things I like to do is have a role clarification conversation with them. I do this because I feel it is very important to get on the same page as my client, and know what we expect from one another.

Most of the time, said client has had some experience with a Mentor in the past. For purposes of full disclosure, I have worked with Mentors in the past and I have found them to be beneficial for various reasons but when discussing a Circle of Support you will find that there are more outlets for you to bounce ideas off of.

According to recent studies, people who are considered “highly successful” have a circle of support, which can be anywhere from 7-10 people they go to for advice, recommendations, support, relationship issues, etc. if you are thinking finding seven to ten people is a daunting task, it is!

We want this task to be tedious because we need the right people in your corner for the highs and lows we face in life. As I stated before there are 7 different types of people you want to form your circle of support, the person who inspires, the person who is an effective mentor, sponsors, someone who is reliable, an emotional support person, peers who share similar experiences, ways of thinking, and challenges. Finally you want someone who is not a “yes man/woman” and will challenge your ideas, decisions, and vision.

The person who inspires is needed in our Circle of Support for those days when your team is not feeling up to the task at hand. This person has a knack for saying the right things to get the team motivated, and making sure other team members feel validated.

We typically see this person as the eternal optimist of the team, regardless of how bleak the task/situation is this person is always thinking about the opportunity in the struggle. He/she can inspire the team but is often lacking in other areas which is why you will need more than a person who can inspire your team.

Mentors have been in existence for decades, most successful people have at least one mentor whom they confide in. A mentor is someone you would go to that you trust, is authentic, reliable, has or knows someone who has experienced the same thing we are going through in the moment, and is nonjudgmental. In this case you are trying to build a network of people with diverse backgrounds so that you set yourself up to become highly successful!

Sponsors are not just the people who invest money into our ideas or business. A sponsor is someone who regularly promotes us and the work that we do. She/he might recommend us for opportunities; make a promise on your behalf, or finance an event.

I invite my clients to have role clarification conversations with their sponsor as often as possible due to the fact that many sponsors may look at the relationship as an apprenticeship, this could cause many problems down the line if not addressed.

Someone who is reliable will always be there for you. This person is the one who is typically early for the team meeting so they won’t miss anything, they live by their word so if they say they are going to do something for you, then you can consider the task done.

You need this person in your Circle of Support because they will always be there for us. Warning, you want to handle someone who is reliable with care, they may put the needs of others before their own causing them to become emotionally drained because of over committing.

Emotional supporters are those friends you consider close whom you can be 100% authentic with. There will come a point in your life where you might become overwhelmed with emotions such as death or loss, divorce, financial hardship, not being able to complete a task that is important to you, etc. In this case you need that emotional supporter to be there for you with a no judgment style of listening to what is on your mind. This person is usually a great listener and knows what to say, specifically to get you back focused.

We want to monitor our relationship with the emotional supporter because they are very good at listening to others and may even provide a solid solution for your issues, but they are very guarded when it comes to expressing themselves and can keep things bottled up.

Peers are the people who we share similar experiences, ways of thinking, and challenges with. This person is right on the front line with us going through the exact same things we are going through so it is beneficial to connect and share ideas with them. Many of us look at peers as if they are competition, which may be true but I have and always will believe competition can be healthy and bring the best out of both parties if they are sharing ideas freely.

Think of the peer as a partner who you are developing a mutually beneficial relationship with, setting yourself up for future success.

I cannot emphasize this enough that when it comes to building a Circle of Support, you need someone who is not a “yes men/woman”. We need multiple people who are not afraid to challenge us in productive ways. When our circle of support has “yes men/women” we operate thinking the way we do things is the way everybody should do things, when in fact it is not. People need to feel comfortable with expressing themselves, and we need to honor that by allowing them to give constructive feedback.

Peace and Love,

Tyrone Dixon works as a Certified Professional Coach in the Syracuse Community through his business ArozeThrough Concrete Coaching. He was born and raised on the South and West Sides of Syracuse. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from SUNY Buffalo. It is his pleasure to be a “writing contributor” for CNY Latino, and write about the topic of Emotional Intelligence (EI). He loves the City of Syracuse and believes that exposure to Emotional Intelligence can help change the direction of the individuals living in some of our “high poverty” areas. Can you imagine how much better our city would be if people were taught how to manage their feelings without hurting someone? Or if we could teach people to be proactive in identifying situations they are not comfortable in?.