by Michael Holland    

John Maxwell’s 11th Irrefutable Law of Leadership (from The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You) states that a leader’s potential is determined by his inner circle, those closest to him.

Basically, your success as a leader, whether you’re a CEO or a new supervisor, builds from the strength of the immediate team which either makes you stronger or holds you back.  It’s not that you need the brightest MBA or the savviest CPA or the most gifted COO in the circle, but more that you need strong, dedicated, forward thinking, positive players.  You need to have folks that will challenge you to achieve greater outcomes.  And the inner circle is not just comprised of people who report to you.  Friends, confidants, spouses and pastors can be players in your inner circle.

The fun part is figuring out who and which combinations of people will create the best inner circle for you during this season of your leadership life cycle.  Through time and change of environments, the circle will change both in size and composition.  You are the one that can determine when it’s appropriate to adjust the size and composition of the inner circle.  How well you anticipate, plan for and then execute the potential change in your inner circle correlates directly to the level of your success.

Take Action: Draw three concentric circles on a piece of paper.  Place names within the circles regarding their proximity to you, noting who is part of your inner circle today, who is in the next circle out and who may be in the outer circle/band.  Next, decide who gets arrows:  either an arrow away from the center or an arrow toward the center.  Finally, determine what actionable steps you will take to adjust your inner circle.