Monday, October 23, 2006


There are two circles in which a leader must operate: the circle of influence, and the circle of concern. The circle of concern represents the areas for which you have some degree of responsibility or accountability. The circle of influence represents the areas for which you have some degree of influence, or control. The circle of concern is usually larger than the circle of influence because we seldom have control over all that we're concerned about.

The circle of influence fits inside the circle of concern. The key is to have the two circles be as close as possible to the same size. The closer the two circles are in size the more positive your experience because you are proactively influencing most of your area of concern. The greater the discrepancy in size between the two circles the more negative your experience because there are large areas of concern that are "beyond your influence" or control. Over time this can be demoralizing.

If you are feeling demoralized at the gap between your circle of influence (too small) and circle of concern (too large), there are two things you can do.

1. Expand your circle of influence. Grow in your leadership. Become more influential. Study leadership. Become more adept at leading. Step out stronger. Make a greater impact. Grow your influence.

2. Restrict your circle of concern. Don't worry about stuff you don't need to worry about. Evaluate whether you worrying about too many things. There is "your pile" and "God's pile." Make certain that you are not moving stuff that belongs in God’s pile into your pile. Shrink your concerns.

Insightful leaders learn to manage these two circle closely. As your circle of influence fills the circle of concern, a leader can afford to take on an expanded circle of concern. This is often referred to as “outgrowing your job.” Conversely, if a leader does not prove to be able to show sufficient influence to cover the circle of concern s/he’s been given, then the circle of concern must be scaled back to be more in line with the leader’s level of influence.

A common Circle of Influence/Circle of Concern problem I’ve seen in churches is the “responsibility without authority” syndrome. Many church boards will give a pastor a large circle of concern (responsibility), but without a corresponding large circle of influence (authority). It is very frustrating to have responsibility without authority. This is one of the most important benefits I’ve experienced being part of CTK – we delegate authority along with responsibility.

Here’s an endorsement for Deliberate Simplicity by D.L. Moody:

“The problem with a great many men is that they spread themselves out over too much ground. They fail in everything. If they would only put their life to one channel, and keep it, they would accomplish something. They make no impression, because they do a little work here and a little work there. Lay yourselves on the altar of God, and then concentrate on some one work.”

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