Becoming the right-hand person of your boss

To become a close ally of your boss, follow the rules of trust: rule number 1 is never to surprise the boss. Most leaders have what is called the inner circle. The inner-circle rule states that every leader has a close-knit group of people who s/he confides in for the most key secrets of the job. These are the people who do the errands of the boss for the success of the organization and the “close knit-group”.

In politics, it is called the ruling team. These are people privy and close to top secrets. The next course of action. The winning tricks. The leader’s modus operandi. A great close knit-group or handy team is so sophisticated that can predict the leader’s reaction to any development and will act accordingly, in case the leader is not reachable at the time an issue pops up. That is how companies are run and countries led.

The ruling team makes decisions in the best interest of the organization. You can not support the organization’s growth when you hide critical information from your boss – the person who is in the driving seat. That’s why leaders do not want to be surprised. Even when it is a birthday party, leaders want to be in charge. This puts them in command of the event and is confident. Anyone who keeps surprising the boss risks losing their job quickly because loyalty knows no surprises!

Once any staff on the team fails to empower the leader to be in charge, they lose respect and trust. Breaking the bond of trust is easy yet it takes 5-10 years of consistent good behaviour to build trust. Imagine the leader gets a communication from a third party about new developments in his company or sphere of control, which his or her inner circle did not inform him about, yet you all know that information is power! Such communication gaps kill trust.

Any staff who provides constant and prompt communication to the leader becomes the right-hand person. And that’s not only it. Becoming a right-hand person also involves the ability to keep secrets. Can you keep secrets? Running a business involves dealing with multiple stakeholders. Receiving and managing expectations and such involves knowing people at deeper levels. You get privy to many people’s secrets, worries, etc and they confide in the leader for favours or otherwise. Such secrets make the leader knowledgeable and powerful in their own right. The people around the leader must always attribute the insights or lessons they acquire while around the leader to the leader. You don’t want people or the media to quote an inner circle member. It could show a power shift and threaten the leader. You cannot be a right-hand man or woman around a leader who feels threatened by you. to win, attribute great decisions and successes to the leader. And attribute the failures and mishaps to yourself and do not mention the leader’s name at all. That is your real job – to take the blame and attribute the success to the leader.

The more information you know, the more competitive you become.  Once the leader refers to you most of the time. Sends you frequently for errands. Gives you special offers. And of course, calls you most of the time, know that you are in good books. Start worrying once the leader or your boss stops calling you or picking your calls.

Remember, be open. Be loyal. You can train academic qualifications, special skills, and pass all competency exams but you can not teach someone to be loyal. To be a person of integrity whom you can trust.

In summary;

  1. Is confidential information safe with the inner circle or the allies or the right-hand person?
  2. Is the inner circle hiding information from the boss, and the risk of getting it from third parties is very high?
  3. Is the boss aware of emerging opportunities and risks? They are something that the leaders must be in control of.
  4. Do you complete all the boss’s assignments fast? And do you offer ongoing updates? If yes, you have the qualities of being trustworthy.

Loyalty leads to trust, which leads to an invitation to the high table. From the military to politics, to top organizations including the family, everyone values trust and loyalty. Whoever wins in being trustworthy, being loyal and available all the time, keeping the boss up to date with all happenings, and genuinely working in the best interests of the boss, will always be a right-hand person.

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, Mr. Strategy 2021. All rights reserved.

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