The circle of influence

Have you ever felt like you are fighting a war that you cannot win? Did you ever feel unable to move things in the right direction? For most people, this will lead to a massive downturn of their working morale. To help you understand that there are things you cannot influence nor control, I would like you to introduce to the circle of influence.

Leaders are not almighty

When you are a young and thriving person, you might use your first leading experience to change the environment around you for the better. You can organise and structure in your team, put up interfaces to other teams and so on and so forth. But sometimes you get into these situations in which you cannot change or alter things. This is because you are sharing the power in your organisation with other leaders and they might be just more powerful.

Thus, the circle of influence is a model created by Stephen Covey to understand why sometimes you are not able to change things and sometimes you are. It consists of three areas: Control, influence and concern. Things you can control, you can also influence and you are also concerned about. But not all setups you are concerned about, you are able to influence. Thus, the control part is the inner part of the model, covered by influence and this is covered by your sphere of concern.

The three spheres of the circle of ifluence.

Fighting is influencing

Let us assume, there is a decision to make but you are just able to vote – that is an influence. The project leader makes the decision in the end: He is in control. But you both are not able to control or influence what the cantine offers on this very day. You both are in concern. Still, you are able to decide what you are eating by choosing to go to this or another place. 

This means that situations happen in different spheres for different people: You can influence your boss but in the end, he is in control. You can be concerned on setups of other teams but you can barely influence them. In the end, this model has the tendency to bring you into an agnostic mindset: You cannot change it. Well, that might be true for some cases but not for others. 

I think one should more emphasis to distinguish the situations and setups, he or she can control or influence and concentrate on those. Leave beside the actions for things you are concerned about but you cannot influence nor control. They are a waste of time.

People around me

Oh, and by the way: You cannot control people. Do not fool yourself! You can influence them massively but you cannot control them, they (should) have a mind on their own. This is important because you might feel responsible for their actions. This is one of the reasons a lot of leaders cannot delegate tasks. Yes, you might be responsible for a persons – but you are not responsible for their actions. Beware of puting them in the control area. The only things you can control are rules and infrastructure. 

People can stick to these rules and they can ignore them but at least it is your way of giving permanent influence to your employees and peers. Also, this is the reason why rules and structure of actions are so important: They make organisations efficient. No micromanagement, no thinking about direction, everything is clear just by your sphere of influence.

The model of influence is very important for young leaders to help understand their position in business and even in private life. I hope that I could help you here with an insight you might be not familiar with and you are able to take away something for your own life.

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