top of page
leadership thoughts.png
  • Writer's pictureDr. Patrick E. Crawford

The Leader's Circle of Influence

Leadership Thoughts | Issue #152

"Leadership is Influence, nothing more, nothing less." – John C. Maxwell."

I confess that John Maxwell's quote, "Leadership is Influence, nothing more, nothing less," has "influenced" my thoughts about what leaders do. When you initially read his quote, your thoughts might immediately go to how leaders influence people, organizations, and communities. Another side of the influence circle is how the leader is being influenced. In this "Leadership Thoughts" issue, we'll consider the leader influencer and the lead learner within the circle of influence. First, let me acknowledge and call to your attention that we are bombarded with people, products, and politics that spend billions of dollars to garner our support. Those unsolicited attempts to direct what we purchase, what we think, and who we support are not the focus of this article.

Leaders live within a web of interconnected relationships labeled "The Leader's Circle of Influence." A leader's circle of influence refers to the network of individuals, groups, and environments over which they exert direct or indirect impact, control, or persuasion. This circle typically encompasses people within their immediate sphere of interaction, including family members, friends, colleagues, team members, stakeholders, and even broader communities.

Influence Flows Both Ways

A leader's influence is evident in how they communicate, make decisions, and conduct themselves while interacting with others in various social, professional, and community settings. Whether intentional or not, every action you take shapes how others see you. These perceptions can have a ripple effect that extends far beyond your immediate circle. Recognizing and nurturing your sphere of influence can amplify your reach, build trust, and create an impact beyond yourself.

Leaders are often influenced by highly respected individuals for their expertise, abilities, experience, and moral character. Wise leaders value and appreciate insights from those within their sphere of influence. These influential individuals play a crucial role in expanding the leader's knowledge and choices within the organization.

The Cornerstone of the Leadership Journey:

Your circle of influence is the cornerstone of your leadership foundation. As a leader, your ability to positively impact others and drive meaningful change is directly linked to the strength and depth of your relationships within your circle. It's not just about the position you hold; it's about the people you influence. Authentic leadership isn't defined by titles or authority but by the ability to inspire, empower, and uplift those around you. Understanding and nurturing the circle of influence can amplify your leadership, cultivate trust, and create an effect that extends your circle of influence. Remember, leadership is not about being in charge; it's about caring for those in your charge. So, invest in your relationships, lead with integrity, and strive to leave a positive mark on everyone you encounter. That's the essence of an authentic leader.

Identifying Your Circle of Influence

Identifying your circle of influence involves a process of introspection and observation aimed at understanding the spheres in which your actions, decisions, and presence hold sway. First, it's essential to reflect on your personal values, strengths, and areas of expertise, as these elements often determine the extent of your influence. Next, consider the contexts in which you interact regularly, such as your workplace, social circles, and community involvement. Within each context, take note of the individuals, groups, and organizations that look to you for guidance, support, or inspiration, as well as those whose opinions and actions significantly impact your own. By mapping out these relationships and environments, you can gain clarity on the boundaries and dynamics of your circle of influence, enabling you to leverage it more effectively to achieve your goals and positively impact those around you.

Expanding Your Circle of Influence

Expanding one's circle of influence is crucial for broadening impact and fostering meaningful connections in both personal and professional spheres. One effective strategy is prioritizing networking and relationship-building efforts, actively seeking opportunities to connect with diverse individuals across different industries, communities, and backgrounds. Engaging in professional associations, attending industry events, and participating in online forums can facilitate the expansion of one's network and exposure to new perspectives. Additionally, demonstrating expertise, credibility, and authenticity in interactions can enhance trust and credibility, making attracting and retaining followers within the expanded circle of influence easier. Moreover, actively seeking to add value to others' lives through mentorship, support, and collaboration can further solidify relationships and cultivate a positive reputation, ultimately expanding one's sphere of influence and catalyzing opportunities for growth and impact.

Summarizing Thoughts

In this blog post, We examine John Maxwell's quote, "Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less." I reflected on how this quote has shaped my understanding of leadership and its impact. We considered the reciprocal nature of influence within a leader's circle, emphasizing that leaders can influence others and be influenced by them. Leaders must recognize and nurture this circle to grow personally and positively impact others. Emphasized were ways to identify and expand one's circle of influence through introspection, building relationships, and adding value to others' lives. Ultimately, authentic leadership involves caring for those under our guidance and leaving a lasting lesson through the leader's integrity and ability to make meaningful connections.

Call to Action

  1. Take a moment to think about your circle of influence and determine the best ways to utilize it for positive change.

  2. Make networking a priority and expand your reach, drawing in followers within your circle of influence. Focus on building relationships and making a difference in people's lives.

  3. Take an active role in mentoring and collaborating with others and leave a lasting impact through valuable connections.

Circle of Influence: A Visual Representation

Visualized in the diagram below, the circle of influence illustrates how connections between individuals are formed reciprocally. Each block represents a person who is influenced by the leader and can also influence the leader. Furthermore, those within the circle of influence will also impact one another. It's worth noting that while not depicted in this flowchart, everyone has their circle of influence with themselves at the center.


Subscribe to receive our "Leadership Thoughts" weekly!


​Explore Our PIL Courses!

PLDC offers Pennsylvania Department of Education PIL-Approved Programs that count toward Act 45 continuing education credits.

Two women looking at a computer

Our programs are designed using the most current and proven methods for effective adult learning that keep participants engaged and promote knowledge retention. In addition to our core programs, we can work with you to create a completely customized program to meet your organization’s unique objectives.


25 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page