Locus of Control

Do you feel like you have control over your life? This is an interesting question, and it is one which gets more and more complicated the longer you think about it. This question has a lot to do with the principle called Locus of Control, which was developed by Julian Rotter many decades ago. This concept describes how people tend to think of the world either in terms of internal or external controls. It is not necessarily all-or-nothing, however, as many people see the world as being a blend of these two types of control.

Locus of Control

This is an important topic for the business world. Generally speaking, you want to work with people who feel that they have a strong degree of control over what happens to them each day. If your employees, or your managers and directors, feel like they don’t have any control – or they have very little control – you are unlikely to get their best effort. By surrounding yourself with people who feel that they control their own destiny and outcomes, you will have a group of people who are willing to work hard to achieve the vision they have for the future.

Locus of Control

To help you think more about how the concept of locus of control can impact your day to day life, we have provided further information below.

Internal Control

As you would expect, those who think they have a great degree of control based on internal factors feel they have the ability to control the world around them. It is not a future which is predestined and they are simply living it out – rather, the future is a blank slate, and they will forge their own way. In nearly every case, this is an excellent way to think about life, and think about the world.

One of the positive attributes that comes from this perspective is confidence. These people tend to be confident, since they feel that it is important to take action when trying to make some kind of change. They aren’t going to sit back and just see what happens – and it takes confidence to get out in the world and make a difference in one way or another.

While it might seem like things are all positive on this side of the ledger, the downside can be that these types of individuals will feel responsible when problems arise. If you feel like you are completely in control of your future, and that future doesn’t go to plan, you won’t have anyone to blame but yourself. That is not a reason to avoid an internal outlook, but it is part of the price to be paid for taking control of your life and its path.

External Control

Here we are on the opposite side of the equation. This is a person who believes that he or she does not have much of any control over the things that happen around them. This person may ascribe the journey of life to simple luck or random chance, or they may decide that others are controlling their destiny for them. Either way, it is usually not an optimistic viewpoint to hold. It is hard to feel good about the life you are living when you don’t think you are actually in control of what is taking place.

One of the hallmarks of a person who feels like things are outside of their control is failing to take credit for success. Even when this person accomplishes something significant, he or she will probably just pass off the achievement as good fortune or random chance. This is not the reaction that would be held by a person who has an internal locus of control. While it is possible to find people of any age in either of these categories, those young and old are more likely to see the world in an external control manner.

Locus of Control

It Can Change Based on Setting

You aren’t necessarily going to see the world in the same way in all walks of your life. For instance, you might feel like you have a lot of control over your personal life, while feeling completely powerless in your professional life. Or, it could be the other way around. There is certainly no template for how you are going to feel, but you shouldn’t expect people to have just one view of the world in all situations.

From a business perspective, it is ideal to have mostly people who see their professional lives as being within their control. Even if these people see the world differently away from the office, their internal control tendency on the job will make them better employees in most cases. Organizations tend to thrive while employing people who have a strong will, plenty of confidence, and the motivation to get things done.

Helping Others

For those who are already in your organization, you may be able to help them perform at a higher level simply by suggesting that they adjust your outlook. You probably can’t change the entire way they look at the world, but you might be able to make subtle shifts by mentioning how they can impact the results of their work. Showing them examples of how they have direct control over outcomes could be enough to alter their attitude on the job. At the same time, paying attention to how others see the level of control they have in life might cause you to review the way you think about the world at the same time.

Thinking about the concept of locus of control is another way you can gain some insight into the motivations and attitudes of your team members. Each person within your organization is an individual, and they are all going to have their own unique way of looking at the world. By taking their perspective into account – and helping them improve it when possible – you can better the company as a whole.

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