Just about everyone has an inner circle. Hopefully your circle is made up of people with whom you are safe discussing topics and getting feedback. The people in your inner circle should bring value to you by both building you up and challenging you.
Groupies, on the other hand, are more concerned with the value they get from their association with you. Groupies:
- Put what’s best for you ahead of what’s best for the organization. Ensuring your happiness and meeting your needs are what matters most to them.
- Follow blindly and are unwilling to push back it if might create tension or put them at risk.
- Take ownership of your conflict with others or drive a wedge between you and others. They are often threatened by others that have a relationship with their leader.
- Betray confidences to feed you “insider information.”
- Require a lot of your attention and reassurance.
- Wear their closeness with you like a badge of honor.
- Perceive that their own success is directly correlated to their relationship with you.
- Lose their individuality by adopting your mannerisms, habits, preferences, language, and opinions as their own.
- Behave and treat others differently based on whether or not you’re around.
Groupies can’t exist without the leader (perhaps unknowingly) relishing the attention, encouragement, and devotion they provide. Here are some suggestions to begin establishing some healthy boundaries with groupies:
- Coach them on making decisions that benefit the organization first – not you first.
- Don’t let teammates own your conflicts or challenges with other individuals. They are yours to resolve.
- Reject offers of “insider information.” It’s gossip. If you want to know something, ask that person directly.
- Objectively assess the relationship. Friends are fine. Buddies are not.
- Help them see their success and potential independent of you.
It’s great to feel needed, but we shouldn’t allow someone’s desire to serve us become their primary purpose. An inner circle is about give and take. What value can you bring to the relationship?