Exploring Locus of Control:  Leadership, Control and Stress

What’s your relationship with control?  Not how controlling are you (oh I know, some of you are labeling yourselves right now, “I am a control freak!” which most of us mean in a like endearing and wonderful way!).  Rather, how do you see yourself relative to events in your life.  This episode gives a glimpse into your thoughts.  And how these thoughts affect your ability to manage your stress.

Art class, let’s begin.

  1. Draw a circle.

  2. You will put a number inside the circle and outside the circle.

  3. Inside the circle, how much control do you have over your workday.

  4. Outside the circle, how much is outside of your control.

  5. Tricky math situation:  these two numbers add up to 100%.

Which was higher?

In the 1950’s before oh so many of you were even a gleam in your parents’ eye….Julian Rotter was thinking about your personality.  How cool is that?  He developed a concept called, Locus of Control.  Oh no, not locusts, which are like gross.  This is about the degree to which we believe that we, as opposed to external forces, have control over the outcome of events in our lives.

Disclaimer:  I am not a psychologist.  I am interpreting his work and I think as leaders being aware of our thoughts is important.

How much control do we feel like we have?  A high internal locus of control = your outcomes are determined by your hard work or decisions.

A high external locus of control =  your outcomes are controlled by “fate” and/or independent of your actions.

Being extremely high or low can be stressful.  And speaking of stress, if we attribute too much to external events, this may magnify our stress.  Why?  Because we may feel less inclined to action, i.e., “It just doesn’t matter.”

To use this information:

  1. Consider your locus of control, maybe take a free assessment and see where you “land”

  2. Write down something that stresses you, decide you will take action (go inside the circle!)

  3. Use the stress strategies to determine at least one action you can take to reduce your anxiety, stress and/or overwhelm

Remember there are no perfect answers.  The answer is to take action.

After you listen to the podcast, check out my overview of 6 Stress Strategies

Additional Resource:  Forgive for Good, Dr. Fred Luskin (sooooooooooooo good!)

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