Back to Listing

What’s your zone of influence?

06 March 2014

We humans are complex creators. We take an issue, then create a problem out of it by adding in a complicated story of she says, he says, she did, I should have, I didn’t...  As a mentor of mine Joe Pane states,  “The ego loves complexity”.  However, most problems are simpler than they appear. And many problems are simply not your problem.

As leaders we are challenged to maintain the focus on problems we have influence over. Anything else is a waste or diffusion of our precious energy.

I was coaching a client who came to me with a workplace issue of gender based negative comments from her male teammates, coupled with stress as a result of her feeling like she had minimal impact on the outcomes in her work environment.

This client was project-managing situations whereby there were complex relationships with stakeholders outside the organisation. She was feeling like she was not making the change she was seeking.

She was concerned with a host of issues that were outside her zone of influence.

This means she was taking responsibility where she had NO control over the situation or minor influence at best.

She had NO control over the jealousy of her male co-workers who know she is promotion material and therefore make gender specific insults to justify their lack of leadership.

She does have control over whether she allows that to affect her own confidence in her ability and whether she allows that to stop her from progressing.

She has NO control over whether the external stakeholders get all their needs met.

She does have control over her communication in the situation so she knows that she has done her best work and influenced the stakeholders to the best of her capabilities.

We worked on her conflict and communication skills until she was confident she was doing her best and better than the organisation would expect of her.

And then she chose to let the rest go.

After drawing a circle, we filled in her slice of the pie with all the issues that she had influence over, and what she didn’t filled the rest of the circle. She used this to remind herself of her zone of influence.

She has set targets to increase this zone by contributing more and becoming of greater importance within her organisation.

A promotion is on the horizon.


What’s your zone of influence?

What’s not?

Would you be prepared to let go of the responsibility for the outcome of all that you have no influence over?  (i.e. drop the unnecessary stress and drama)

How can you begin to stretch and increase your zone of influence?

By focusing on your zone of influence and ONLY your zone of influence, you are positioning yourself to be a master of what you can control. And that’s a great feeling.

Lead on purpose.



  • Qinnie Wang

    Qinnie Wang 6 years ago

    Great article. I also find myself frustrated over things that I can't control. As you said, it's important to recognise the zone of influence and focus on improving that. Thanks!