3 of 10: A Modern-Day Leader Has A Strong Inner Circle

navigator Leadership

(10 Principles of Modern-Day Leaders Series)

The paradigm of leadership has shifted over recent decades. With multiple generations in the workplace, a globally connected world, competitive job markets, demand for work/life balance, and fast-moving changes in technology, leaders need to adapt to changes and understand how to effectively connect with those they are leading.

In this ten-part series, we layout ten principles that modern leaders can lead with to be the most effective difference makers they can be.

As I sat with Ashley during an appointment last week, I listened as she gleamed with pride talking about her 15-year-old daughter. She had just gone to her first homecoming dance, was about to begin working a seasonal job at a local haunted house, and was maintaining straight A’s as she began her freshman year. I asked if she had any other children.

“I have a 16-year-old son and things aren’t as easy with him,” she admitted.

He’d been heavily using drugs for the past two years. He was frequently skipping school. He had no respect for his hard-working mom as she tried everything she could to get him on a better path. I asked what started him on this downward spiral. Coming from a loving family, why is the sister finding her wings and embracing the challenges of adolescence, but the brother was traveling a completely different path?

I knew the answer before I asked, but Ashley confirmed; he was hanging out with some bad influences.

I’ve listened to NFL Hall of Famer Ray Lewis tell young football players “Show me your crowd, I’ll show you your future.” At a young age, surrounding yourself with good influences is key to your growth and maturation. Being around others that are kind, respectful, hard-working, thoughtful, creative, and uplifting can instill those characteristics and will only strengthen those traits in yourself.

But sometimes we forget that as adults, we need to be consistently, consciously surrounding ourselves with good influences as well.

In fact, strong leaders know this to be true and intentionally surround themselves with a strong inner circle, both at work and in their personal lives.

Why a strong inner circle is important: In worldwide best-selling book Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill writes, “Men take on the nature and the habits and the power of thought of those with whom they associate in a spirit of sympathy and harmony.”

To simplify, Jim Rohn would tell us that we are the sum of the five people we spend the most time with.

Think about people as fuel. If we are surrounded by negativity, pessimism, people stuck in their comfort zones, and those that talk about problems but don’t offer any solutions, we tend to lower ourselves to those standards. Like putting poor fuel into our bodies, we put poor fuel into our minds and it influences how we see the world.

But if we surround ourselves with creative individuals that enjoy talking about new ideas, we are inspired to think outside the box. If we are surrounded by others with a strong faith, we are inspired to keep our spirituality cup filled. If we surround ourselves with others that value kindness towards one another, we are kinder to ourselves and those we interact with.

What to look for in your work circle: In The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (a highly recommended read for aspiring leaders), leadership expert John Maxwell writes on “The Law of the Inner Circle” and lays out five questions to consider in deciding which people to choose for your inner circle within your organization:

  1. Do they have a high influence on others?
    • Look for leaders that have high respect for others and have high respect from
  2. Do they bring a complimentary gift to the table?
    • Look for leaders that possess strengths in your areas of weakness to make the inner circle well-rounded.
  3. Do they hold a strategic position in the organization?
    • Look for leaders willing to work on the same page that prioritize the good of the organization.
  4. Do they add value to me and to the organization?
    • Look for leaders that will lift, add to, and multiply the positive impact your organization has the potential to make.
  5. Do they positively impact other inner circle members?
    • Beyond adding value to you and the organization, look for leaders that raise the rest of the inner circle and keep team chemistry strong.

If you are considering someone that passes the approval of the five questions above, there’s a good chance they belong in your inner circle.

What to look for in your personal life circle: We tend to associate with others that are on common ground; similar income, neighborhood, interests, attitudes. Enjoying time with those similar to you is great, but for your inner circle, be selective and choose those who can help you grow the biggest. Choose individuals you can have deep, thoughtful conversations with. Choose those who might challenge you when you deserve to be challenged. Choose those who will lift you up and keep you on the best track of your life.

What characteristics are you looking for in selecting these people? First, simply ask yourself what kind of man or woman you’d like to be in 5, 10, or 20 years. Then, find people with the qualities and values of who you wish to become because those people belong in your inner circle.

If you wish to become an entrepreneur, spend quality time close to those who are like-minded in this area. If you wish to be the best mother or father you can be, spend time around other great parents. If you wish for more patience, spend time with the most patient person you know.

Don’t worry about the person you are now. Life is a journey of growth, and we grow faster and bigger when we are surrounded by the right people.

Keeping your circles strong: Both circles need time for serious strategy and time for play, and the key is planning for the appropriate occasions. Spend time weekly, minimum monthly with those in your circle.

Plan for lunches to have serious conversations with your closest people. Challenge them and ask them to challenge you to reach higher potentials. Ask how they would handle the hard times and situations you find yourself encountering. Ask them to reveal your blind spots and ask, “What am I missing?” before making big decisions.

Be sure to also spend time to laugh and share great experiences with those you are closest to. Your inner circle should be full of people that you feel comfortable to be yourself. Especially with your personal circle; they’re people with whom you can let loose and be your most vulnerable. We can’t always let our walls down completely, so don’t take for granted the opportunities you have with the people you’re closest to and that you love the most.

Men take on the nature and the habits and the power of thought of those with whom they associate in a spirit of sympathy and harmony.

Men take on the nature and the habits and the power of thought of those with whom they associate in a spirit of sympathy and harmony.

Contact Us

Need personal advice for finding your inner circle? We can help!

Email us at info@nav2lead.com or call us at 888-771-5812   and we will help advise you on the best direction to go in forming your inner circle!