Saturday, 2 June 2012

Control? Influence? Concern? Know the difference or pay the price!

Stephen Covey in his book, "Principle Centred Leadership" describes the difference between your circle of influence and circle  of concern. If you extend this idea from two circles to three it becomes much more powerful. Imagine three concentric circles all individuals and businesses must operate within:

  • The smallest circle isthe “Circle of Control” – that is what you can directlycontrol. InBusiness this often just covers your team, assuming of course you are its leader, and external suppliers you are paying.
  • The next circle is the “Circle ofInfluence” where you can affect things but are not in totalcontrol. Peersand Bosses in yourdepartment or business unit and maybe …. your closest customer/partner businessrelationships fit here.
  • Finallythelargest circle is the “Circle of Concern” where youcan take action (and hope) but have little actual control overwhat ultimately happens. Everything and everybody else lives here!

Can you define the boundaries which constitute these 3 circles for your life or your business or your team? The fundamental dilemma for each of us is recognising which circle a given problem or opportunity is in - otherwise you waste huge amounts of effort in trying to impact things over which you have little control. Read more about this in my white paper How to set up a business simulation lab to improve decision-making.

Ken Thompson (aka The BumbleBee) blogs about bioteams, virtual collaboration and business simulation at