What makes great leadership at Inner Circle Consulting?


Jamie Ounan

We believe that the best solutions are yet to be discovered and the best outcomes yet to be delivered. That is why we prepare organisations for change and help them implement it. We do this through an intimate understanding of their business, a relentless focus on delivery, the use of techniques that challenge the status quo and bridge traditional disciplines. We provide a range of services to public and private organisations including project and programme management, property consultancy, change management and strategy development and strategic advice. Contact us to discuss a project.

Over the last six years I’ve transformed the ICC team

We’ve progressed from a fledgling business into an award-winning firm employing 35 people advising senior executive clients and delivering complex, knotty programme on their behalf. We’re often leading multidisciplinary teams combining technical consultants, in-house staff and our team, so leadership is vital.

The Senior Team at Inner Circle have developed and refined particular styles and techniques over the years and there are two important things we never forget: 1. never stop learning and 2. It is the role of leaders to grow leaders.

We thought we’d share a summary of our approach to leadership.

Inner Circle Consulting Office

The Eight Personality Traits of our Successful Leaders:

  1. Believe that the best solutions are yet to be discovered and the best outcomes yet to be delivered and are motivated by this as an opportunity.

  2. Have a relentless focus on positive progress.

  3. Ensure everyone’s role is clear to them and clear to others.

  4. Take time to map each team members’ strengths and plays to them.

  5. Develop a culture of sharing and mutual support, but don’t shy away from constructive conflict.

  6. Deploy careful listening and brokerage skills.

  7. Develop teams who take joy from people’s ideas and success

  8. Are driven by unwavering integrity, honesty and persuasiveness.

Our leaders give clarity of objectives and roles through sound preparation

An around-the-world sailor knows precisely what they’re going to do under any/every changing circumstance (broken mast, crew injury, or simply being in the lead). This requires careful preparation by the whole team, with clear roles and responsibilities articulated and owned by the team members. They also apply adaptive leadership where specific crew members take control under particular circumstances where they are best placed to lead.

Although the around-the-world sailor comparison seems extreme (and of course we’re not in mortal peril) the complexity of government and the real estate industry and the associated changing market and policy circumstances is comparable and requires nimble responses to manage risk and take opportunities.  

So at Inner Circle we must prepare thoroughly

This starts with the tendering and continues through the inception and mobilisation processes. We must map out our journey including when/how decisions are to be made and know when to be comfortable with ambiguity and when absolute precision is required.

Our leaders build the right team and motivate them

At Inner Circle we’re able to select from the very best candidates. Once on board, Inner Circle has a peer support style and we use our system of Hacks, Friday Insights and Debriefs to build knowledge, build and maintain quality and create space for situational leadership from all members of our team.  

We’re also expert in helping our clients commission the best advisory and delivery teams. However, it’s the mobilisation, culture setting and gelling of that team that gets the very best results.

Our leaders build ownership of tasks

We’ve learned over the years that building ownership of tasks is vital. The basics are to allocate and empower, however, there are many nuances to the implementation of this. Our leaders often seek to co-define tasks with the task owner and we recognise which person in a multidisciplinary team will need more or less help. Whether they’re new to a situation or maybe ‘too experienced’ and require encouragement to do something a bit differently.

Our leaders ensure each task links clearly to the overall vision so people can see how their role and daily effort is contributing to the whole. Our leaders keep people focused on the task.  

Moreover, our leaders aim to listen more than we talk (a hard task for some, including me) and coach or mentor in the right measure, whether that’s our own team, our client staff or senior leaders we work with directly.

Our leaders get the basics right

We’re a project management consultancy so it is our commitment to always get the basics right.

Good project Governance aides decision making and ensures total project control. In our world of early stage projects decisions = progress, hence the way we work with the team is to lay out the decision, gain a deep understanding of what it takes to secure the decision and have relentless focus on progress. 

Sound resource management ensures everyone knows their role, the volume of work they can manage and that budgets match the aspiration (after all a vision without a budget is an illusion).  

Our leaders build fellowship

We believe there are some simple traits, inherent in our leaders, which engender followship:

  • Honesty & integrity. Being consistent, clear, open and calling others out from time to time when they are not.

  • Positivity. Hope (optimism of the will), belief (with pessimism of the intellect hence giving space to question) and being a leader of fun (as it’s quite easy to lose the joy in a project, so we make the job as fun as possible).

  • Mindfulness. Consciously aware of individuals’ circumstances and being compassionate towards them. Setting high standards but accepting imperfections along the way.

  • Act without ego. Inner Circle never forget what a privilege it is to work with great people.

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