Who Is In Your Circle of Trust?


In the past several days, I had the opportunity to be in Boston, Massachusetts on business. While there, I took some time to visit the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, among several other cool places. Kennedy has always served as an inspiration to me for the dynamic and visionary leadership he displayed, during his little over one thousand days in office. Over the years, I have read a number of biographies and articles detailing Kennedy’s personal and professional life.


Until I got the opportunity to stroll through the halls of his library, there were many things that I pondered. Was it his charisma that made him such a great leader? Maybe it was his ability to communicate a vision? Or, perhaps it was his first-rate, Ivy League education?


It wasn’t until spending time absorbing the magnitude of the Cuban missile crisis that one of JFK’s greatest strengths became apparent to me. Earlier in his Presidency, Kennedy made the mistake of listening to advisors that he did not know, nor in whom he trusted. They advocated for the Bay of Pigs invasion. The results were disastrous and Kennedy vowed to never make the same mistake again. Instead, he surrounded himself with a circle of influence that he knew and trusted. Most notably, he gleaned much from his friend and younger brother, Bobby.


During times where opportunity exists, when leaders face challenges, and where failure is a definite possibility; having a group of individuals who can be fashioned into a circle of trust raises the leader to a new level. Some simple ways to accomplish this are:

1.Some is better than none – John Maxwell said it best when he stated, “None of us are as smart as all of us.” The collective education and experiences of a group always provides a much deeper pool of insight than the musings of any one person. Collaboration leads to creativity and creativity leads to more effective ways to problem solve.

2.Yes is not always the right answer – When seeking out members for your advisory board, the key qualification should not be agreeability. Find out true friends who will point out when you are wrong. If you want a companion that gives you undying loyalty – despite your wrongdoings – then buy a dog. Leaders need to put their trust in others who will stand up to them when they are wrong.

3.Own the decision – Don’t ever lose sight of the famous words of President Harry Truman. He said, “The buck stops here.” As a leader, you should evaluate the pros and cons of the advice given to you by your circle of trust. However, the decision ultimately lies within you. Leaders have frequently obtained the position because of their ability to make decisions under pressure. Once you have arrived, do not lose sight of that skill.


As always, I hope that these few words provided opportunity and insight into your personal development of leadership. This is just one short discussion about the art of being a leader, among many more I hope to have with you. There are so many topics that we have yet to cover, but more on that next month…


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Mike Stanley

Mike has a passion for leadership! He loves to read, write, discuss and teach on a variety of topics that help individuals and organizations raise their level of leadership. His experiences include being a Captain on the fire department, owning a business and being a founding member of the John Maxwell Team.

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  • Ingrid Dumalagan

    “None of us are as smart as all of us.” –This is very true. That’s why being in a group is very important. But, you also have to choose the right group for you. Also, being in a group allows you to encourage and be encouraged by others.

    This is a very substantial article. Thank you for this!

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