Who’s in Your Inner Circle and How are You Honoring Them?

In several of his books, John Maxwell has put it pretty simply. “Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less.” 

The tool shown here is modified from Stephen Covey’s “Circle of Focus” first described in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People


Pretty simply, the circle of focus, is what you may have the ability to control in your everyday life. It may include those you live or work with and may include some dysfunctional behaviors as reactions to how you are presenting yourself in those capacities. 

The circle of influence contains more of a banter, or repartee to achieving your personal and professional goals. This is typically the area where we spend the most of our time. 

The circle of concern may be interpreted as extraneous goals which arise sporadically and demand a short spurt of attention for a brief period of time. You may or may not have much control over any of these scenarios but they may gain a place in the back of your mind. 

We tend to dwell in our own circles of influence and it is here that trust, communication and integrity play a key part in all of our actions and reactions. 

One of the values I was taught by my father at a young age was my word was my bond. If I said I was going to do something, I didn’t say it lightly. But it was completed. No matter what the time 

investment, the research investment, the additional resource investment, if I said I was going to do something, it was done. 

If I shook hands with someone about mutual expectations and benefits to the conversation in hand, that made it more of a lasting bond, whether or not it was documented. There was no wishy-washiness about what I had pledged or the other parties had pledged. We didn’t go back on our word. If exclusive products or services were obligated, we honored them. 

It’s frightening to say, but not so much in today’s world. I don’t know if folks have lost the meaning of the word integrity and what it stands for; what a handshake means; or what it means if you look someone square in the eye and give someone your word that something will happen, and you arbitrarily move on to someone else for whatever reason. 

Integrity blends very well with respect and trust. These are the two easiest things for someone to lose and the hardest things to get back. 

So where does integrity, trust and respect fit into your circle of influence. What are the expectations you share and those that others want from you when you come to the table to negotiate something of value? 


If we look at educational research and other practitioners, trust can be defined in terms of the following modules: consistency or reliability, integrity, compassion, communication, and competency. (Bryk & Schneider, 2002) (Covey, 2004) 

Leaders are able to bank their trust quotient based on those elements. Each time a leader practices with any/all of these four components, their trust and respect bank accounts soar. Yet it takes only a brief interlude or one specific interaction, for the back account to be wiped clean, no matter the age, the gender, the position or the “influence” the culprit had before such incident. 

Other specifics to consider when thinking about stocking that account: 

1. How readily are you able to express your feelings, beliefs or voice comments during a general conversation without fear of retribution? 

2. How is trust exhibited towards you when you make those expressions? Is any facet of your communication routine jeopardized in any way when you speak up? 

3. How easy is it for you to take your leader/supervisor at their word? If you say it, how is it manifested? 

4. How are you measuring efficacy? Does everyone meet all of their deadlines in a timely manner without crippling others? 

5. How are your strengths and weaknesses in a team weighed when assigning tasks? 

6. How do you celebrate the dynamics of your team or is one person swooping in to take all of the credit? 

7. When working on community projects, how ready are you to forgive the sins of others whose performance has been lackluster in the past? Will you share that experience? Do you keep it to yourself and pray that things go differently? Are you able to let the former experience roll off of your back and pray for the best this time? 

8. How easy is it for each member of the team or collaboration to keep their promises? How are you following up on assigned tasks? 

9. Is every member contributing in some way toward the greater good of the whole? 

10. How balanced are your own offerings as well as those of others? Beware of strangers bearing false gifts. 


It’s important for you, as a leader, to answer all of these questions. It’s important for you to have a conversation with your team members to foster strong relationships and foster the elements of trust that will reward you with greater synergy and less resistance to congealing as a whole part, rather than the sum of parts. 

It’s up to the leader to set the tone. Who are you permitting in your circle of influence and are they bringing you benefit? How will you fare? 

Kayte Connelly, Best Principled Solutions LLC, is a John Maxwell Leadership coach, trainer and speaker, and human talent development consultant specializing in personal, professional and community leadership. She offers keynotes, facilitates retreats and conversations with dissimilar parties and helps individuals and organizations identify and eliminate what stands between themselves and their goals. Customized, enriched services are designed to create and sustain generations of leaders for our community and elsewhere, based on research and global development. Please “like” us at www.facebook.com/BestPrincipledSolutions. Call 484.769.2327 for more information on how your company could become more collaborative, flexible, imaginative, innovative and/or to discover your leadership “edge.”