Introduction to the Law of the Inner Circle
Greetings and welcome back for our continuing look at John Maxwell’s best selling book – The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Each of these podcasts are taking a look at an individual law in John’s book and how the law plays out in the construction and remodeling industries. If you are listening to individual podcasts, these laws are actually part of an entire course on Construct-Ed that looks at how these laws can be used to build better leaders in the construction industry.
My name is Chris Jurin. I am the CEO of Construct-Ed which is an online elearning community dedicated to the construction and remodeling industries. I am serving as your guide through these podcasts on leadership as we look at John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. I am a trainer with the John Maxwell Team. In addition, I serve as the president of a commercial roofing company as well as the president of a roof consulting firm.
In this podcast and chapter we are going to look at the Law of the Inner Circle. I am not sure about you, but the name of this law brings back memories of the movie Meet the Parents. The movie is a humorous story about a man played by Ben Stiller who goes home with his fiance to meet his eventual in-laws. In one scene in the movie, Ben Stiller is informed that he is being brought into the Burns inner circle of trust by his future father-in-law Robert DiNiro. Ben Stiller spends the rest of the movie working to stay in his fiance’s father’s good graces and for the most part failing. As quickly as he finds himself in the circle of trust, he finds himself being kicked out.
In the Law of the Inner Circle, John Maxwell bases this law on the premise that “A Leader’s Potential is Determined by Those Closest to Him”. Take a look around you – whether you are a foreman and you are looking at your crew or you are a business owner and you are looking at your managers. Are they affecting how you think?
There is a saying that you are a blend of the five closest people in your life. Are you happy with who you are? If not, take a look around you and see who you are hanging out with. Are you happy with your kids – if not look at who they are spending their time with. If you want to change yourself – change your surroundings. This goes with construction as well. If you are not happy with your progress so far, change who you are spending time.
As we have talked about, construction projects take teams to complete. Construction companies take many team members to run effectively. Unless you are a sole operator and employee of a company, chances are that you are not going to be successful in business unless you have a team of employees with you.
Sounds great doesn’t it? But again, this is construction. We are not able to just filter out who we work with based on whether we are going to allow them into our inner circle. We have to work with sub-contractors, primes, and others including specialty trades. While we may get along with them in order to get a project done, we most likely would not invite them into our inner circle. So how do we know who to allow in?
Exploring the Law of the Inner Circle
Knowing who to allow into your inner circle starts with understanding what you are looking for in your inner circle. Have you ever thought about why you spend time with someone? Do you give thought to why someone has a role in your life compared to others? Start with the process of looking at what you expect from a relationship and give thought as to why specific people are in your life.
With certain people you do not have a choice but to have them in your life. As they say, you can pick your friends but not your family! We don’t have a choice about having our kids or parents in our lives. Whether they are active in your life, they are still in your life. But we do have the ability to choose friends, employees and to a lesser extent co-workers.
Think back to the Law of Magnetism that we discussed back in law nine – Who you are is who you attract. As the Law of Magnetism states, we attract and surround ourselves with people who are similar. The Law of the Inner Circle points out that once we have attracted them and allowed them into the innermost circle of who we are, they not only reflect who we are but they also keep us from changing. If you want to change, you need to make that a focus from the inside out. If someone is keeping you from transforming into something that you want to become, you may need to change up your inner circle.
So how does all of this influence the construction industry? Great question – and I am glad that you asked! As leaders in the construction industry, we are faced with problems on a continuous basis. Everyday is riddled with problems. If you don’t have problems – you either are not in the construction industry or you are not looking hard enough.
The question is not in whether you have problems – the question is in how you are reacting to those problems. And how you react to those problems is in large part a function of those who are around you and the influence that they have on you. Do you react to site problems with angst and worry? Do you avoid problems – hoping that someone else will address it or hoping that it was just a mirage and will fade away? Good luck! As the old saying goes – unaddressed problems don’t get better with time. They just grow and grow. Ignorance is bliss until it isn’t anymore.
If you want to improve how you run your crew, how you run your department or your company then you need to surround yourself with people who will have a positive effect on you and your abilities as a leader. Do you want to grow as a leader? The immerse yourself into a culture where those closest to you are supporting you and cheering you on.
Wow – you may think that this is overwhelming. And it is if you don’t have that inner circle established and you attempt to fill it all at once. The key is to fill it at a pace that you can sustain. If you have no one in that inner circle, find one person and build from that experience.
By now you are thinking about those who are closest to you. You are thinking about who you want in your circle. You might be asking yourself how you qualify people for being in the circle. And you might also be thinking about someone that is in the circle, but that you most likely want to give an eviction notice to!
Creating your inner circle.
John Maxwell, the author of the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, gives five great questions on how to qualify people to be in your inner circle. Let’s take a look at those five now.
- Do they have high influence with others?
This is difficult question to ask sometimes. Evaluating requires that you are really familiar with the person and also with whom they associate. You have to be careful to be sure that their influence is from a good position and not a manipulative one. Ask yourself not only if they have high influence, but also how they influence.
Construction leaders influence a lot of factors throughout the day. If you are looking to bring on a new crew to your company, look at a possible foreman and whether he can bring with him the crew that he was leading before moving to your company. If you are bringing on a CFO, look at how well she associated with the outsourced accountant. Do they have influence that they can clearly exhibit.
- Do they bring a complimentary gift to the table?
This question is asked in conjunction with the question about your own weaknesses. We all have weaknesses. Each of us has things that we do well and not so well. Be on the lookout for someone who has strength in an area where you are weak. If we continue to staff our strengths and ignore weaknesses, those weaknesses can severely impact the future of the company.
Are you strong in sales, but lack operations abilities? Are you a financial whiz, but lack sales experience? Identify your weaknesses and then look to staff those with leaders who are strong in those areas.
- Do they hold a strategic position in the organization?
Initially you might be tempted to think that this only affects larger companies. If you are a sole proprietor you might think that this is an issue does not apply to you. But, in order for growth to occur the team must expand. You must start to think strategically.
Who has a strategic position within your company? In construction there are many strategic positions. If the company manages multiple projects, a project manager or head of operations is strategic to future success. Can you find a way to let them into your inner circle? If not, you may want to reflect on yourself and on them. What is holding you back?
- Do they add value to me and the organization?
Leadership is built in part on self-interest. Not self-centeredness. Being self-centered means that you are solely focused on yourself and don’t care a lick about what happens to someone else. Being self-interested means that you are interested in your own growth and that you realize that supporting others will in turn benefit you as well.
It has been said ad-nauseum here – construction is a team sport. Projects are not completed by one person. They are completed by teams. Each person adds value to the project. They should be adding value to those around them and to you as the leader. Are they? Evaluate each of your team members on their ability to add value to the company, the projects and to you. Bring those who add value at all levels into your inner circle.
- Do they positively impact other inner circle members?
Some construction companies and crews have a tendency sometimes to run like a bad episode of Survivor. People work together in order to run someone else off of the island and then eventually turn on each other after there is no one left. In order to find success, companies must build around people who create a positive impact on those around them.
Do you have a foreman who has a positive impact on his crew? Do you have a sales team leader who positively impacts her sales team? Or is someone a negative influence on those around them, always bringing them down and appearing to pick a fight? If someone is positive and creative a positive impact on those around them, there is a good chance that they would be a positive impact on your inner circle as well.
Developing an inner circle is not a task list item. It is not something that you can do, check off of the list and then forget about it. Developing an inner circle is a journey and process that never ends. It is more like building a house – once it is out of the ground it still continues to change. You have to maintain it. You have to live in it and learn from it. People may move in – and then they may move out. Some people may change so much that you have to ask them to leave.
Remember the Law of Process – John Maxwell states that leaders develop daily, not in a day. Much in the same way inner circles do not develop in a day. They are developed and maintained with daily focus. Much as you would not attempt to build a building in a day with no plans, make plans for building your inner circle and then only ask specific people to bid on being a part of the process of building and maintaining that inner circle.
Take your time – and enjoy the process!
The John Maxwell Team has outstanding resources for helping you develop your leadership skills. These skills can be developed in a way that will help you in both your professional and personal lives. I would suggest that you look at resources including the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and the 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. Click on the Products tab which will take you to the John Maxwell Team online store. Search for the content on the site or take time to browse the online store.
Thanks for tuning in to our discussion on the Law of the Inner Circle! If we can answer any questions for you on leadership topics, please feel free to list them below and we will do our best to get some answers for you.
Check out Construct-Ed for more training and education resources related to leadership in construction.