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The Rise of Influence

inspire talent optimization Jan 12, 2021

“You cannot step into the same river twice—for it is not the same river, and you are not the same person.”

This paraphrase of Heraclitus reminds us that change plays a central role in the universe, in life, and at work.

As leaders, the greatest change we are observing is the progressive rise of individual autonomy.

We see this shift everywhere:

You can control a 7-year old’s bedtime much better than you can 10 years later.

If you teach 2nd graders, you have gobs of control over the learning environment. By the time they are college sophomores, your span of control is decreased—they must want to learn.

NBA players now create “superteams” with their friends. NFL players hold out if they want a better contract.

In “Team of Teams”, General McChrystal describes how the most command-and-control institution of all—the U.S. military—had to adapt to engage an agile and autonomous enemy.

As leaders, we now orchestrate remote employees, free agents, contractors, gig workers, and cross-functional team members who we do not directly manage.

Control is an illusion and a dangerous leadership mindset.

Tomorrow, I’ll explore how this evolution requires us to shift from leading with authority to leading with influence.