If you are a Facebook and Google conspiracy theorist, The Circle is the movie for you.  This film follows the story of Mae Holland, played by Emma Watson.  Looking for something meaningful, Mae lands her dream job at a tech company known as The Circle.

Soon thereafter, she meets the company’s founder Eamon Bailey, played by the incomparable Tom Hanks.  What follows is a case study of ethics, privacy, ambition and the impact those values have on everyone, especially the people you love.

There is one F-bomb near the movie’s end and a brief shot of intimacy but no nudity.  The film is getting panned by critics but if you just want a good story, this film will do just fine.

The following are 38 Leadership Quotes And Lessons From The Circle Movie:

  1. Pay Top Talent Top Pay – I went to this movie for one reason and one reason only – Tom Hanks.  If this movie would have featured a B or C-level lead actor, I would not have handed over my hard-earned money.  If you hire the right people, the revenue will follow.
  2. Great Leaders Are Experts At Their Craft – Watching Hanks perform his craft is an absolutely joy.  When you watch him act you are truly seeing a master craftsman at work.  Whether it is church, business, athletics, or entertainment, never take excellence for granted because it is so rare.  Enjoy it while you have it because it does not come around often.  For more leadership lessons from Hanks’ movies, click Sully, Saving Mr. Banks, Captain Phillips, and Bridge Of Spies.
  3. Smart Leaders Leverage Their Platforms To Lift Others – Hanks is prominently  featured in the movie’s promotions.  However, he is only in a handful of scenes.  This is Emma Watson’s movie.  What I like is how Hanks leveraged his influence to enlarge her platform.  This is what great leaders do.
  4. Find A Calling, Not A Job – In the movie’s opening scene, Holland was a customer service representative.  When asked what she was doing by her best friend Annie, she said “I’m at work.  I come here everyday to get money to buy goods and services.”
  5. Genius Is Making The Complicated Simple, Not The Simple Complicated – The purpose of The Circle was, “The chaos of the web made simple.”
  6. Successful Leaders Fear Unfulfilled Attention – During her job interview with The Circle, Holland said, “I’m most scared of unfulfilled potential.”
  7. Great Leaders Are Nimble And Can Think On Their Feet – During the interview, the questions came fast and furious as you can see in the trailer above.
  8. Modern Work Spaces Should Incorporate Every Area Of Your Life – During her orientation, she was shown a workplace which included exercise, housing, healthcare, education, daycare and much, much more.  I think the office workspace will one-day be a thing of the past unless they create similar environments.  It is just easier, more cost effective, and more productive to work from home.  Which leads to my next point:
  9. Smart Companies Care About The Whole Person
  10. Customers Want To Be Treated Like Human Beings – During her training Holland was told, “If you don’t get customers on humane experiences you don’t get customers.”
  11. Facts Are Your Friends – The Circle had a process called “Realtime Analytical Processing” for all the data it was gathering.
  12. Great Leaders Set The Bar Very, Very High – The goal of every customer service rep for The Circle was 100% satisfaction.  They had a documented follow-up system to ensure they did everything possible to achieve that goal.
  13. Successful Leaders Are Generous – Bailey said, “Sharing is caring.”
  14. Leaders Are Continual Learners – Bailey said, “Knowing is good but knowing everything is better.”
  15. Doing Work That Fits Your Skills And Passion While Also Having Meaning And Purpose Brings Happiness – As Holland found a job which perfectly fit her skills and passion, she began to soar.  May the same thing happen to everyone reading this post.
  16. Your Success Is Determined By Your Inner-Circle – Bailey had a Group Of 40.  This was his inner-circle and where he got his best ideas.
  17. Creativity Happens By Design Rather Than Default – Smart leaders run great meetings.  Bailey had designated times for creativity and long-term planning.
  18. Great Leaders Are Great Listeners – As successful and iconic as Bailey was, he continually listened to younger people and those serving in the field.
  19. Successful Companies Mesh Work And Community Together – Holland was told during her training, “It’s not about work.  It’s all about community and meshing them together.”
  20. Smart Leaders Welcome, Ask For And Accept Accountability – The Circle COO Tom Stanton said, “We need accountability.  We need openness.” He would later get it.
  21. Bad Things Often Come In Good Packages – Leaders need wisdom, not just intelligence.  In an effort to stop the “rape, murder, (and) kidnapping” of children, The Circle wanted to place a chip in every child’s bones.  When you read their reasoning and for that matter, many of the leadership lessons in the statements below, it sounds really good.  However, their motives and intentions were inherently evil.  The devil also usually comes as an angel of light.
  22. Innocence And A Lack Of An Agenda Results In Increased Access – Because Holland was attached to the mission and vision of The Circle and did not have a personal agenda, it increased her access.  Simply put, people are attracted to a pure heart.  Company co-founder Ty said, “This girl doesn’t have a cynical bone in her body.”
  23. Because Of Cell Phones Everyone Is Now A Reporter. – When visited at the office by her friend Mercer, an argument ensued.  It was caught on camera by her co-workers and then seen by millions.
  24. Smart Companies Care About What Their Employees Care About – After providing health care for her parents, Bailey told Holland, “We care about everybody you care about.”
  25. Integrity Does Not Make You A Leader.  But A Lack Of Integrity Disqualifies You As A Leader. – Bailey said, “It’s our lies that get us in trouble – the things you hide.”
  26. Problems Are Solvable When Great Leaders Are At Their Best – Bailey said, “When we are our best selves, there’s no problem we can’t solve.”
  27. Why Accountability Matters – Bailey said, “Do you think you behave better or worse when you’re being watched?”
  28. Secrets are lies.  Secrets make crimes possible…Secrets need accountability.” – Holland
  29. Knowledge is a basic human right.  Access to experience is a basic human right.” – Holland
  30. Success Brings Jealousy – As Holland’s career began to take of, her relationship with her best friend was severely damaged.
  31. Great Leaders Are Always Advancing, Always Moving Forward, Always Breaking New Barriers, And Always Taking New Ground – Bailey said, “I like the words ‘One Step Further.’  It’s how the company was built.”
  32. People Need Privacy More Than Transparency – Holland’s parents said, “We have to have our privacy.”
  33. Great Parents Unconditionally Love Their Children – While Holland’s job damaged her relationship with her parents, they constantly reminded her how much they loved her.  Later on, when she needed them during a time of tragedy.  Their love for her kept the door open for the relationship to resume.
  34. Smart Leaders Develop And Cultivate Lifelong Friendships – Holland said, “When everyone can be found we will never lose a friend.”
  35. The People Serving Under Great Leaders Are Greatly Blessed.  The People Serving Under Poor Leaders Are Greatly Affected In A Negative Way. – There are two sobering scenes where those closest to Holland were significantly affected in negative ways by her success.
  36. Don’t Be Confused.  Successful Leaders Ask For Permission Then Forgiveness – Annie said, “They (The Circle’s leadership) ask for forgiveness but never permission.”
  37. Leaders Are Held To A Greater Standard – Bailey and Stanton wanted transparency from literally everyone in the world.  However, they were unwillingly to be transparent themselves.  Once their secrets became exposed, they were then held to the same standard as everyone else.  As a result, they then experienced an appropriate level of accountability.
  38. “Privacy was a temporary thing.  Now it’s over.” – Holland

Let’s hope not.  The Circle is an interesting movie.  Ignore the critics.  Check it out.


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