October 10

Influence vs. Control

Early in your career, you are rewarded based on how effectively you con- trol your work. You are primarily tasked with executing decisions being made by others, and if you deliver on expectations consistently, you will eventually be rewarded with more responsibility. You might even be pro- moted into a role where you are managing others.

This is the critical moment when many people slip up. Once you are in a position of leadership, your job is no longer to control the work; it’s to influence it. If you attempt to control the work of the talented cre- ative pros on your team, they will eventually disengage until you tell them exactly what to do. This means that you won’t get the best work out of them, because they will stop spending energy thinking of ideas that you’re likely to change anyway.

To lead by influence, whether you’re leading a team, a client, or your peers, means to spend less time telling them how to do the work and more time teaching them how tothinkabout the work. Establish guiding principles that help them understand what successful work looks like (instead of them guessing what you want), how to know when an idea is good (instead of them waiting for you to tell them), how to deal with con- flict (instead of always stepping in and resolving it), and other elements of your leadership philosophy that will help them deliver great results.

To help your team deliver brilliant, unique results, focus on leading with influence instead of leading by control.


Where are you trying to control the work right now instead of influencing it?

Related Articles