The Path To Controlling Your Leadership Self
In one way or another, we all seek control in our leadership lives.
Control is a sense of being able to, in varying degrees, govern the circumstances of our respective spheres of influence.
Leaders who seek control have three distinct options in exercising control. They are:
- Control over things
- Control by things
- Control of self
As with any trait, control has its negative and positive qualities. The first two are external control measures coming from outside in, while the third is an internal control resonating from without.
Control over things.
Defined as the need to have a desired set of outcomes. It stems from the basic need of importance that Hyrum Smith detailed in his book “10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management“. Some leaders succumb to an abuse of power, authority, coercion, or attitude in order to achieve control. Others become obsessive in this pursuit, allowing this to become a growing need and eclipse their view of the true purpose of their leadership. This level of control is often overt to all, and lessens the effectiveness of it’s owner.
Control by things.
This is when a leader allows external components to give them a sense of command. These components can take the form of poor habits, overeating, drinking, or other means whereby the leader feels a need to have something they can regulate in order to stay on top. The paradox here is these habits and components can very well control their owner, and damage her or his credibility. Jeffrey A. Fox mentions a few of these issues in his book “How To Be CEO“.
Both of these control mechanisms can get out of balance rapidly, and result in destructive behavior that permeates everything and everyone the leader exposes themselves to.
Leaders are at their best – not when they strive for control, or are controlled – but when they understand the only point of influence that they can wield.
Control of self.
When leader gains control over self, they will not exert control over things in an effort to gain power or success. They work hard for mastery over the only area they can truly influence – their own person. They know the reality and wisdom that no amount of influence can govern all the events in their world, and that the best way to approach them and be more influential is to gain a mastery over their leadership abilities in both proactive and reactive measures.
Their focus also shifts from getting control to giving control, and autonomy, to others. This mindset allows the entire team to have far greater influence, and control, over the events of the organization by increasing the touch points to any project by involving more people.
If a leader has the right control over self they also prevent themselves from being influenced by habits and other behaviors that can derail their focus or effectiveness. Many leaders have fallen prey to alcoholism, infidelity, corruption, and other crimes or poor habits due to their need for control externally. Keep in mind there are others who are controlled by smaller, less destructive behaviors such as excessive leisure, nervous behaviors, anger, compulsion, and depression that still hinder their effectiveness.
Note that while some behaviors are organic, meaning that the individual may be susceptible without a volitional choice to do so, there are many ways to overcome them that are well within a leader’s grasp to attain. By identifying those methods in which they can control their thoughts, body, and self, they can seek ways to minimize any impact on those organic and susceptible areas.
While a leader needs to have a certain amount of control over what they’ve been given responsibility for, it’s the spirit of that control that ultimately shows what type of influence they have.
Leaders with a strong desire to have mastery over themselves and lead by a positive example will have longer lasting leadership footprint than those who manage control over circumstances or are managed by external things.