Take care choosing the inner circle

Published 10:01 pm Thursday, October 19, 2017

By Elaine Lankford

Over the years, I have met lots of people, and some have become good friends, but most are acquaintances. None of us really associate with our 500-800 Facebook friends on a daily basis.

No, I have very few close friends and only two, maybe three, people that I would say are a part of my inner circle. Why such a tight inner circle? Mostly because inner circles are meant to be places of trust, truth and raw honesty.

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In business, however, the inner circle of a leader may be slightly more expansive. One’s inner circle is built more on quality and potential contribution than sheer numbers.

Think inner circles are for weak-minded leaders? Think again. No one is truly successful in isolation. In “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,” John Maxwell defines the Law of the Inner Circle this way: “A leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him.”

Probably the most closely watched inner circle in our country is the president’s. As each president takes office or starts a new term, the former cabinet is let go or revised and a new cabinet established.

Why? Because each presidential term requires a strong team that the current president can trust to carry out his vision for the country.

The same principal applies in our businesses. As leaders, we each need to establish an inner circle that will be focused and loyal to our business. Just as we should evaluate the people we attract, it is important that we also evaluate and reevaluate those we allow into our inner circles — and why.

John gives us five questions to consider when reviewing our inner-circle selections.

4Do they have high influence with others? Whom do you need in your inner circle that will be highly influential with others inside the company, with outside business partners, with affiliates or with customers?

4Do they bring complementary gifts to the table? Consider whether there is a natural flow of ability in an area that is valuable to the team.

4Do they hold a strategic position in the organization? Are the people you have chosen to put in key positions also valued as inner circle members? They probably should be. Otherwise, their positions in the company may not be congruent with their actual abilities.

4Do they add value to me and to the organization? As an inner-circle member, what value do they bring to the table when it comes to moving the company’s mission and purpose forward?

4Do they positively impact other inner-circle members? Do they strengthen the core team members, or are they attempting to be a lone wolf on their way up the corporate ladder?

Finally, consider this: Do they display excellence, maturity and good character in everything they do? These characteristics should be viewed in light of a positive answer to the first five questions and not as a sole determining factor.

Many employees may display these traits, but some may not display a level of leadership ability that would qualify them for the inner circle.

Choose strategically, and never be afraid to reevaluate those choices. Your inner circle is just that important to your success.

Elaine Lankford is a John Maxwell certified coach, teacher, trainer, and speaker. She is the founder of Transforming Love Ministries, LLC and a board member of the Christian Business Coalition of Hampton Roads. Email her at elaine@elainelankford.com.