I would argue that the higher up in leadership you go, your locus of control shrinks and your sphere of influence increases.
Locus of control refers to the people, processes, systems, etc. that you have direct control over. We have a tendency to manage (not lead) the things within our locus of control because we have the authority to deliver consequences if they are not meeting standard (and micromanage!). For example, a classroom is a teacher's locus of control. She has authority over her students, her lesson plans and her classroom management strategies. If a student misbehaves, there are certain consequences that she can deliver, or she can choose to monitor that student more closely than before.
On the other hand, the sphere of influence refers to people, processes, systems, etc. that you can impact or influence, but have no direct control over. Within our sphere of influence, we have a tendency to be more savvy in how we interact with people because we know we cannot make them do anything. Some even manipulate to get their way! Using the example of the teacher, her sphere of influence may include other teachers, campus administration, and the parents of her students. She can strategize about how to interact with these people so that she may benefit, but she has no authority over them.
As a leader, you may find yourself farther and farther from the initial job that you started in the industry. The aspects of your job that you used to have direct control over are now harder to impact because you have to work through several middlemen or you simply are not available enough to monitor everyday activities. In contrast, a leader's sphere of influence grows as they move up and the strength of their influence becomes stronger. A leader may find themselves rubbing shoulders with decision-makers or discovering that their words (or an email) had a larger impact than anticipated. An effective leader recognizes their influence and strategically uses it to impact the performance of employees, to collaborate and partner with peers, and to obtain new resources and markets.
If you want to learn more about how to identify and take advantage of your sphere of influence, contact me here for a free leadership consultation.
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