What is Your Circle of Influence? A MUST HAVE Tool!

business skills leadership teams tips and tricks Sep 16, 2021

What is the circle of influence?

In a renowned book called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen Covey outlined a great deal of insights, tips, tricks, and so much more for intense personal development and growth.

Many of them apply to the world of business, and all of them apply to the world of leadership. As an entrepreneur, you must be both - so we wanted to outline one of the important concepts he writes about in order to help strengthen your abilities as a founder. 

This one is called the Circle of Influence. Specifically, he outlines that in life, there is a certain amount that we can control, a certain amount that we can influence (but not necessarily control), and a certain amount that we are concerned with (but can't necessarily change, influence, or control in any way).


This is all part of a task where you're encouraged, alone or with a team, to write down things that are in each circle. For example, you could write "what I eat" in the CIrcle of Control, "how my friends feel" in the Circle of Influence, and "the weather" in the Circle of Concern.

Just to be clear:

  • The Circle of Concern includes all the challenges and concerns you have in all areas of your life.
  • The Circle of Control is what you can directly control on your own within all that concerns you.
  • The Circle of Influence, therefore, includes the things that you cannot control directly, but may be able to impact indirectly through what you can influence.

Now that you have this first task complete where you have outlined lots of the things you can control influence, or not do anything about but that does concern you, you can move onto the really impactful next steps!


The Aim - Growing Your Circle of Influence

"Growing your circle of influence" is a really common term in certain conversations - and it's one used a lot here on StartrHub.

See, to grow your circle of influence means to expand your ability to have an impact in areas you cannot directly control. Most of the time, your circles of control and concern don't change much, but by taking on new perspectives and making certain new decisions, you can expand what you're able to influence.

This means taking certain actions that put you in the position to indirectly affect more of the things in life that you're concerned with. For example, if you have more responsibilities in life or at work than you can handle, spending some time to do some research, set up a new system, or network with a new person that could help you delegate a responsibility, change a commitment, or lighten a burden would allow you to get over those challenges.

This really simple example highlights that even if you want more control over things that concern you, and even if they feel like they're overwhelming, using things like networking or new opportunities to increase what you're able to influence can help you find new solutions to solving, or at least lightening the burden of, those problems.

This is the aim of understanding your circle of influence - to increase it so that you can make life less challenging, more enjoyable, and increase the amount of impact you're able to have. 


So, how do you increase your circle of influence?

Network - A lot of influence is built by creating as many trusting relationships as you can. The more people that you have in your network that have a fond or trusting perspective of you, the more you're able to call on others for help when it comes to problem-solving, introductions, campaigns, and having really any kind of impact.

Be a mentor - You can help build your circle of influence and relationships by supporting others in such a way that they learn to trust you and are more open to growing and improving. Other people who you've supported can turn out to be a powerful part of your circle of influence if they feel inspired to live their potential to the fullest!

Have a purpose, and communicate it - If others know what you stand for and why, they're more likely to identify with you. It's more personable, and if what they believe in just so happens to be aligned, then you could have made a great new connection! Someone is also more likely to give you work, listen to you, promote you, want to partner with you, and potentially so much more if they have a reason to connect with you.

And this list isn't exhaustive. Have a think for yourself about what you're able to do that could expand your ability to affect, no matter how indirectly, the things in your life that are within your concern. This can help you have more impact, alleviate stresses, and even open up new opportunities to change your life that you never expected!


How can it change your personal attitudes and your entrepreneurship journey?

The most natural inclination for most people seems to be to focus on their circle of concern, outside of what they can influence or control. This focuses our mindsets on what we can't control, decreasing our focus on what we can influence and thus actually shrinking what that sphere covers. This is called being reactive.

On the other hand, if you want to expand your circle of influence, you can instead focus on being proactive. By understanding the situations at hand that you want to influence, you can decide what steps will expand how much influence you can have over what you want to affect. For example, by being empathetic, asking questions and listening, and networking, you can increase how many people you can influence and how much you can influence them (by increasing their trust in you).

Knowing how large your circle of influence is within your circle of concern is a helpful tool for understanding what areas you need to work on as a leader. Maybe it would help the business for your co-founder to have better trust in your judgement? Maybe you have kids that need looking after, taking a lot of time away from your business, and you need someone trustworthy to look after them for a few hours every week? Perhaps you want to launch a new campaign, and need more people in your network who like what you do, so that they're more likely to share it and increase the impact of that campaign?


The best part...

Even something enormous and challenging - like climate change for example, which is a notoriously MASSIVE challenge we need to overcome - could to some extent become part of your circle of influence, if you start expanding your ability to affect it, such as by becoming an activist or taking on a relevant job. Suddenly, your abilities to affect the things you're concerned with start to grow!

Spend some time brainstorming how to increase our own circle of influence, and see how over time, it puts you in an ever-improving position as a leader!


What are your thoughts about this? Have you practised this yourself? Let us know on Instagram!


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