• The Aspire to Give® Blog

“Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.” – John C. Maxwell. This is one of my favorite quotes from John C. Maxwell, the best-selling leadership guru who has sold over 34 million books in 50 languages. It is concise, clear, simple, and easily understood.

With your learning, wisdom, and life experience, you've learned about your intention to give. It is by the example you set, beginning with your thoughts, then the words you speak, and finally, the actions you take that influence others.

In a nutshell, you lead by your example of what you think, say, and do. With this premise of leadership = influence, let's look at your influence on your inner circle, which typically consists of your family and dearest friends.

We've affirmed that leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. The leadership of your inner circle becomes challenging for two main reasons.

  1. First and foremost, they usually are loved family members, so the emotional dynamics are a significant challenge in inner-circle leadership.
  2. The second key challenge is multigenerational. Depending on your age, members of the inner circle normally include three generations – your generation, your elders (parents), and your children (“life-learners”). I refer to children as life learners in life’s accumulation phase.

Your inner circle leadership challenges deal with multigenerational and accompanying emotional components between and amongst members of your inner circle. For example, there is the challenge of influencing teenagers (life learners) as they face life-directing choices, such as what to do after high school. With their life and wisdom accumulated with age, the more senior family members (parents and grandparents) hopefully recognize that they are in the role of influence to help them cheer, steer, and engage them.

Another example of inner circle leadership (influence) is the challenge of dealing with aging parents. As elders’ health declines, they typically become increasingly reliant on their grown children to make sound choices on their behalf. It may be an emotional tightrope walking the fine line of facilitating elders’ independence and ensuring their safety and well-being. Within the same generation, your influence with your siblings, your significant other, or your spouse, may be easier because of your everyday life experiences together.

Suppose you are blessed to have ample financial resources. Money typically adds an entirely new dynamic challenge to inner circle leadership. With your financial resources, it is essential to understand that money is a two-edged sword and may be particularly revealing to your loved ones, family, and closest friends. Are you financially responsible? Are you intentionally generous? Do you steward money well with an understanding of your finances? Money can be an influence for good, and money can be an influence for bad. This is particularly appropriate to discuss with your inner circle when thinking about how abundant financial resources can positively or negatively influence your children and your grandchildren.

For example, your inner circle leadership with financial resources can be positive. Positivity is guaranteed if it reflects your core values and is aligned with intentional generosity to do good. On the flip side, there can be unintended consequences if excessive wealth is given or bequeathed to children or grandchildren without strings attached or clear expectations. We've all heard of spoiled trust fund babies and children living off trust funds without accountability, expectations, or structure. These are the unintended consequences of gifting financial resources without strings, expectations, design, or intention. The influence or leadership of your inner circle is a direct result of what you say, think, display, and do with your time, talents, financial resources, and relationships (trust).

In summary, the leadership of your inner circle becomes an emotional multigenerational dynamic that often makes it difficult to engage in practical, meaningful conversations. This may be especially true if there are money-related issues. It is vital to learn the questioning methods to help you become a caring and loving influence on the members of your inner circle.

Let’s do some good!


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Disclosure: Aspire to Give® is a social enterprise that donates 100% of profits to charity.