In his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, leadership guru John Maxwell promotes the benefits of having an inner circle. It’s one of the laws. Maxwell suggests “A leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him.”
If you want to do something meaningful – accomplish something great – then you can’t go it alone. You need others to help you get there.
You need your own team.
Now, the most common question here is: how many people should I have on my inner circle? The simple answer is this: at least 4 and less than 12. The most common is 6 to 8 people. Why? You need enough people to provide depth and not too many that it becomes unmanageable.
Once you embrace this concept, and understand the immense benefits to be derived, the challenge then becomes: Who should be on your team?
This is the point where the value of diversity can play an important role.
The Value of Diversity
The topic of diversity is as diverse as it is long. Diversity is generally associated with ethics. And ethics is often associated with values. But there is an important strategic difference between ethics and values, which I wrote about in a previous blog post.
As a differentiating value, Diversity means being different; variety; noticeable heterogeneity.
When considering the formation of a leader’s inner circle, the use of diversity is meant to be purposeful. In other words, you should specifically design differences and variety into your team that will benefit you, the leader.
- If you are creative, you need someone analytical.
- If you are aggressive and move fast, you need someone who is patient and thoughtful.
- If you process ideas internally, you need someone who will talk ideas through out loud.
- If you’re not technically oriented, you need someone who is.
- If you’re older, you need someone younger.
To be clear – all of the people in your inner circle need to share the same moral principles (ethics) as you. But they should possess different qualities that shore up your weaknesses and close gaps in your thinking.
The qualities of your inner circle should complement you, not compete with you.
The benefits of diversity
When you ensure a variety of complimentary qualities exist in your inner circle, you will experience many benefits:
- Increased creativity through better collaboration on ideas.
- Improved productivity by helping you focus on the things that make the greatest impact.
- Motivation to keep going when its tough, through broader accountability.
- Faster responses by seeing both problems and new opportunities sooner.
- An expanded view of the marketplace through a richer view of the world around you.
- Greater appreciation and sense of compassion for others by having a more holistic view of people.
- Greater clarity on differentiating values through healthy debates that validate what matters.
- Improved confidence by feeling less likely to be blind-sided by unknowns.
- Continuous growth as the people in your inner circle also grow.
Embracing the value of diversity when selecting members of your inner circle requires deliberate effort. But the rewards are worth it – for you and the members of your inner circle.
What other benefits exist by including diversity within a leader’s inner circle?