#11 The LAW OF THE INNER CIRCLE– A Leader’s Potential Is Determined By Those Closest To Him

walk-with-the-dreamersWelcome to the eleventh law of the 21 irrefutable laws of leadership. We can safely say that we are right in the middle of the book! The journey get better each day!

You see, every leader’s potential is determined by the people closest to him.

If those people are strong, then the leader can make a huge impact. If they are weak, then he can’t. That’s the Law of the Inner Circle.

When John Maxwell realized he had to take up the responsibility of pastoring a church in San Diego, he knew that the only way to achieve maximum success as a leader was to remove the weak staff he possessed and replace them with the best people he could find. He realized that no matter what those old members did, they would never have been able to take the organisation to the place it needed to go.

Mentally he divided the people into three groups, according to their ability to lead and deliver results. The first group he had to deal with were the bottom third, the staff contributing least to the organisation. Shortly afterwards be began working on the middle third. One by one, as he found good leaders from outside the organisation, brought them in and let go of the weakest of the existing staff.

The staff continued to grow in strength and he developed the people to make them better leaders. In fewer than ten years, the church became three times the size it had been when he started and the annual budget of 800, 000 dollars grew to more than 5 Million dollars a year.

“ When You have the right staff, potential skyrockets”

According to leadership expert Warren Bennis, “the leader finds greatness in the group, and he or she helps the members find it in themselves”.

ACTIVITY: Can you think of any highly effective leaders? You will find someone who surrounded himself with a strong inner circle.


Maxwell uses Billy Graham and President Ronald Reagan as examples of people who had a fantastic inner circle. Each of them had an inner circle of individuals who made them better than they would have been alone.


Under the best circumstances, a leader should try to raise people for his inner circle from within his organization. Hewlett- Packard manager Ned Barnholt believes that there are three groups of people in an organisation when it comes to their response to leadership and it’s impact;

  1. Those who get it almost immediately and they are off and running with it
  2. Those who are skeptical and not sure what to do with it
  3. Another third who start out negative and hope it will go away

Barnholt says he used to spend most of his time with those who were the most negative, trying to convince them to change. Now he spends time with people in the first group “investing in his best assets”. This kind of attitude pays rich dividends in the future.

You may be wondering where you should be spending your time in your organization. Here are five types of people that can add tremendous value to you and your organization;

  1. POTENTIAL VALUE – Those who raise up themselves; The first ability that every leader must have is the ability to lead and motivate himself.
  2. POSITIVE VALUE – Those who raise morale in the organisation; people who are able to lift up others and boost the morale in an organisation are invaluable, and are always excellent assets in your organisation.
  1. PERSONAL VALUE – Those who raise up the leaders; It’s lonely at the top. Leadership is a heavy load so you had better take someone with you. Wouldn’t you rather take somebody who isn’t a yes-man, but a solid supporter and friend? Seek for an inner circle of people who help you improve.
  1. PRODUCTION VALUE – Those who raise up others; For your inner circle, value people capable of raising up others.
  1. PROVEN VALUE: Those who raise up people who raise up other people; The greatest value to any leader is someone who can raise up others. That produces multigenerational leadership.

To end this chapter, Maxwell closes with a statement that’s not only an expression of his desire to lead effective teams but a counsel to those who want to do the same.

“You see, I know I have more potential that I haven’t reached, and if I want someday to get there, I’ve got to surround myself with the best people possible. That’s the only way it will ever happen. That’s the law of the Inner Circle’.

Never underestimate those who you give your time to.



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