THE BLOG
07/04/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Who's Got Your Back: The Four Mind-Sets of a Successful Leader (Part 1 of 5)

This is the first of an exclusive five-part series based on the instant New York Times bestseller Who's Got Your Back: The Breakthrough Program to Build Deep, Trusting Relationships That Create Success--and Won't Let You Fail (Broadway Business) by Keith Ferrazzi.

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Have you found yourself thinking of starting your own business? Are you trying to climb the corporate ladder while the company is working through the recession? In other words, are you aiming to be a leader?

Well, behind every great leader, at the base of every great tale of success, you will find an indispensable circle of trusted advisors, mentors, and colleagues. These groups come in all forms and sizes and can be found at every level and in nearly all spheres of both professional and personal life, but what they all have in common is a unique kind of connection with each other that I've come to call lifeline relationships.

In order to build these all-important lifeline relationships to lead you on a path to personal and financial prosperity, there are four core mind-sets which can be learned and practiced. They are:

* Generosity. This is the base from which all the other behaviors arise. This is the commitment to mutual support that begins with the willingness to show up and creatively share our deepest insights and ideas with the world. It's the promise to help others succeed by whatever means you can muster. Generosity signals the end of isolation by cracking open a door to a trusting emotional environment, what I call a "safe space"-the kind of environment that's necessary for creating relationships in which the other mind-sets can flourish.

* Vulnerability. This means letting your guard down so mutual understanding can occur. Here you cross the threshold into a safe space after intimacy and trust have pushed the door wide open. The relationship engendered by generosity then moves toward a place of fearless friendship where risks are taken and invitations are offered to others.

* Candor. This is the freedom to be totally honest with those you confide in. Vulnerability clears the pathways of feedback so that you are able to share your hopes and fears. Candor allows us to begin to constructively interpret, respond to, and grapple with that information.

* Accountability. Accountability refers to the action of following through on the promises you make to others. It's about giving and receiving the feet-to-the-fire tough love through which real change is sustained.

2009-06-03-bookjacket.jpgThe real key to establishing close relationships with people you consider your trusted advisors in your career and in your personal life is how these Four Mind-Sets work together. The process starts with generosity. It jolts people out of traditional transactional do-for-me-and-I'll-do-for-you relationships. Actively reaching out to and helping others gives us the opportunity and permission to take a relationship to a deeper level. This allows us to explore intimacy, ultimately to the point of being vulnerable and open with one another. If we've created a safe space, a place where we feel safe enough to say candidly what we think and feel, we can take greater risks in the relationship. It can lead to making a commitment to mutually support one another through thick and thin and to hold one another accountable for doing the things that will allow us to achieve our dreams and destinies. Taking such risks can lead us to create more than just friendships-we can create lifeline relationships to a better future.

This process is iterative: The more you give, the deeper you get, and the more profound your sharing becomes. That strengthens your safe space, providing more freedom to be vulnerable and candid-which opens the relationship even more deeply. Trust builds incrementally, by stages, growing deeper and stronger as the mind-sets are practiced more sincerely and passionately.

Once you work within the Four Mind-Sets, you will see it's a truly inspiring experience. Whether you're working with an experienced sales team or building a business from scratch, the lifeline relationships you build will become more than your colleagues or assistants. They will become a trusted circle of advisors and your peers.

That's worth repeating: peers. Equals. Even though one of them may have clear organizational authority-and the title and decision-making power to go with it-each member functions as a highly respected equal, offering up creative ideas, candid feedback and criticism voiced with authentic concern for the others' interests, and rigorous attention to accountability around goals, goal setting, follow-through, and of course results. Each member has free, open, and respectful permission to call the others out when they are falling short (because we all fall short, and most of us, as I know well, tend to do so repeatedly).

Do you want to be more successful in your career and more fulfilled in your life? Then let's get started.