Why Do You Need An Inner Circle?

On two separate occasions during a 24-hour period last week, I had two members of my inner circle of leadership hold me personally accountable on mission-related issues. In both cases, they were “spot on” with their comments and delivered their message with perfect sincerity.

I needed the nudge in both cases, but was not exactly excited to accept their recommendations. At the same time, I knew they were right and I was glad they were comfortable telling me.

inner circle

My Thoughts

As I thought about these situations, I simply thanked God for the privilege of being able to work with people of this caliber and the mutual trust we have established. I have had an inner circle in place for over five years and continue to see benefits!

Of course, my next thought was that I really needed to share this on my blog! So as a result, I am going to give you my reasons for having an inner circle. In the next post, we will look at some common objections people bring up when discussing this topic. I am also going to dedicate the next several posts after that to laying out HOW to develop your own inner circle. I will include some recommendations for additional reading material for further help.

Jesus’ Example

So, we will begin addressing the WHY by doing my favorite thing…looking at the Bible! Let’s consider how Jesus managed His three-plus year ministry on earth. We have to assume that He knew He was operating with limited time to establish an ongoing ministry that would continue after His death (and resurrection!). We can also assume that He would have the wisdom to know the best way to make that happen, right? So how did He do it?

Choosing Twelve

Well, He started with a crowd that was following Him from place to place for various reasons. In Luke 6:12-13, we see that He spent all night praying about who to choose for his small group of twelve disciples. It does not appear that He took this task lightly! The next morning, He chose His small group of twelve disciples from among the crowd.

His Inner Circle

Next, we notice in Mark 5:37, Luke 9:28, and Mark 14:33 that he called out three of the disciples from the small group to go deeper with Him. On several occasions, we notice that He spent additional time with these three, exposing them to opportunities that the other nine did hot have.


I may be simple-minded, but I am one who believes if Jesus saw enough value in the process, then I should as well. However, in case there are some of you out there who need more convincing, I will keep going!

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of developing this inner circle.

    You will learn in the process! – As you go through the steps I will lay out for you over the next several posts, you will realize that this process will teach you as you go through it. Not only will the members of your inner circle benefit from the increased development, you will also learn as you take the time to pour into them. If you are one who does not feel you need to learn, then please stop reading and click on the little red “X” at the very top right of your screen.
    You will raise the bar for all of your leaders! – Not only will those in your inner circle become better leaders, those outside of the inner circle will respond to the higher expectations. They will work to improve their performance and potential because you have shown them this is the way to get your attention.
    You will all gain strength! – While you may think your team members are all on the same page right now, by drawing a small number of them into your inner circle, you will increase the effect of their combined focus. Just like Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”
    You will gain accountability! – Just as I described in the introduction, we have established such a mutual trust in my inner circle that they feel comfortable enough to call me out. Whether we like it or not, we all need accountability!
    You will perpetuate your mission! – Just as Jesus did through his small group of disciples and, to a greater extent through his inner circle of three, you will exponentially increase the odds that your mission will continue long after you are gone.

Do you already have an inner circle? What benefits do you see?

If so, how could you improve it?

If not, what are you waiting for? Why not start now?

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  • Bradley J Moore

    This sounds similiar to having a personal “board of advisors” or “accountability partners.” Especially as a leader, I agree it is important to find people who will be real with you, who won’t just tell you what you want to hear (which is what you got with the “nudges”). But this is not always easy to get to that level of trust with people. It will take a certain level of intentional development. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this.

    • Bradley, you are exactly right! It is much the same. It is also difficult to do it well. But the key word is intentional. Once I had it working, I wondered how I ever operated without it!
      Let me know your thoughts as I go!

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  • I know “going it alone” is a problem I’ve had to rectify in my life. It’s easy to justify by saying that I’m a private person, but I’ve benefited greatly from having people hold me accountable.

    • There are times for “going it alone”, but I believe anyone who really wants to live intentionally needs accountability partners of some sort. There are references to this idea all through Scripture and I think it is our responsibility to seek these partners out.

      Of course, this is easier for some than for others, but I think it is necessary for all. I can tell you there are times I wish they were not there (to hold me accountable!), but I am better off for having them!

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  • Michael Dodaro

    is a refreshing perspective, Chris. I’m used to seeing managerial networking
    from below, where it looks more like a control mechanism to keep anybody with a
    different perspective or criticism from being heard. I work in a company with
    more than 60,000 employees.  Networking
    intrigues often count for more than quality. But you evidently want to know how
    others will perceive a situation before you make decisions that could have
    unforeseen consequences.

    According to Jack Welch the biggest little secret in business is
    that candor is actively discouraged or suppressed. Jack often finds a kernel of
    truth and then uses it to justify something that looks very different from a
    perspective lower in the hierarchy. Jim Collins in his book Good to Great makes more sense. In his
    analysis of level-five leadership, great
    leadership is not about high profile politicking of the sort that makes guys
    like Jack Welch famous. Rather it is daily engagement in the details of running
    a business and listening to feedback. It’s rare when executives know as much
    about the gritty details of a business, or as much about the customers, as people
    in the trenches.

    A network that is open to criticism, even looking for it before
    making decisions that will affect others, seems like a good network.

    • Thanks Michael, I agree.

      I also like Jim Collins’ perspective on Level 5 leadership. It is certainly validated by the data in his studies. While I do not see myself as being a Level 5 leader, it is certainly my goal.

      At the same time, I see a greater benefit in the eventual development of more Level 5 leaders through the process of the inner circle. Wouldn’t it be incredible to look back in five or even ten years and see a wake of Level 5 leaders that were developed through our efforts? Whether they are still working with our company or not, I feel I would have accomplished something great.

      The only caveat I would add is that it would all be for naught if they were not focused on impacting others for eternity! Developing Level 5 leaders that all have an eternal perspective…that is what I believe is my purpose!

      Thanks for your comments!

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