By Rose O. Sherman, EdD, RN, FAAN
I was recently talking with a nurse leader colleague who confessed she was not making the kind of progress she had hoped for in influencing the behavior of her staff. She is new to her role and has established a timeline for change that might not be achievable given the extent of the unit’s problems. Effective nursing leadership involves the ability to influence the behavior of others. Influence unlike position power is about relationships, and relationships are about the investments made into people. Spheres of influence can be expanded over time.
What is a Sphere of Influence
Andrea Ragnetti makes an important distinction between a sphere of control and a sphere of influence. He defines a leader’s sphere of control as the things he/she controls directly and personally: his/her team, projects, etc. In contrast, the sphere of influence can be defined as influencing the behaviors and reactions of a person, persons or organization so that outcomes mirror his or her vision and strategy.
Understanding Your Own Sphere of Influence
A mistake that leaders sometimes make is focusing on challenges that are not within their circle of influence or control. The late Stephen Covey in his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People discussed the concept of Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence. His point was that we should only spend our energy on stuff that we can do something about. Focus only on problems that lie within your “circle of influence” to effect change. He pointed out that you have limited energy. Challenge your judgments on whether or not these concerns are really worthy of your time. Just because you can fix something doesn’t necessarily mean you should try to exert influence to do it.
Expanding your Sphere of Influence
A sphere of influence is built over time. It is not having 500+ contacts on your LinkedIn profile. Rather, it is about establishing high quality relationships with trust that will allow you to call the right person in any given situation to influence or decision the needed outcome. It is the recognition that true influence is built by making others successful. It is about seeking opportunities to create mutual benefit and building and nurturing relationships. Some key ways to do this include the following:
- Take a sincere interest in the success of others
- Look for opportunities where you help others to shine
- Work on your likability factor
- Develop your authority in your sphere of control
- Help others to secure things of value that are scarce
- Choose to lead in situations where others won’t
To develop a true sphere of influence, it is important to keep in mind that you must give to get. The more you have to offer, the more quickly your influence will grow and with it your leadership effectiveness.
Read to Lead
Covey, S. (2004). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Free Press.
© emergingrnleader.com 2013