How Do You Compare?
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How Do You Compare?Business Success

Those interested in business success must learn how to deal with many personalities. How Do You Compare? will equip you with essential knowledge to give you the edge in dealing with people. Presented below is a short excerpt about one of psychology's best kept secrets.

What is Locus of Control?
The Secret to Success at Work.

Many of life's experiences are considered to be good, bad, or somewhere in between. Locus of control is also like this: it is a continuum. You can believe that your accomplishments in life are due to luck, or personal effort, or somewhere in between. Psychologists call people who take the credit for success and the blame for failure "internals." Internals believe they are responsible for the good and bad things that happen to them. Internals tend to be self-reliant; they take pride in victory, and they feel shame in defeat. "Externals," on the other hand, blame outside forces or bad luck for their failures and attribute their successes to good fortune. Extreme externals do not believe their behavior has any effect on their lot in life. Externals are fatalistic. In short, internals do things and externals have things done to them. Of course, many people fall in the middle of this continuum. Individuals who maintain a balance between internalism and externalism are often happier. They know what is within their control and what is not.

The concept of locus of control has deep cultural and social implications. Why? Because it influences motivation. When you plan to do something, you consider the effects of your behavior. For example, you may want to get paid more at work. If you are an internal (you believe you control your destiny), you will work harder to get that raise. However, if you are an external (you believe your efforts will not influence your destiny), working harder will not be rewarded. But, if you are lucky, you'll get a raise.

How Do You Behave at Work?

Among factory workers, internals set harder goals than externals. This is because internals believe that they can control their work by their own behavior. But internals only work harder if they think that their hard work will lead to desirable outcomes, like pay increases, bonuses, promotions, and recognition.

Internals do not look to others for direction. They would rather do things on their own, and they resist the control that supervisors impose. If you are an internal and you are dissatisfied at work, you are more likely to complain or quit. Internals will also try to control their work lives by setting their own work flow, changing procedures, and modifying work assignments.

Because externals tend to be compliant, they look to others (like their supervisors) for guidance. Generally, externals are easier to supervise and follow directions well. Externals are in many ways better employees. However, the nature of the job has some bearing on how internals and externals operate. A job that requires independence, initiative, frequent changes in tasks, and a great amount of information processing is best left to the internal. Externals are better suited to jobs which are routine in nature, such as factory line, clerical, and unskilled labor jobs.

Are You a Good Supervisor?

Several university studies found that internals are more likely to become leaders, internal leaders performed better than external leaders, and the groups headed by internals performed significantly better than external-led groups. Internals have the advantage because they are goal-oriented and they focus on results. If given a chance to supervise, internals who find themselves in a position of power try to lead their employees through persuasion. Externals, on the other hand, select punishment to influence their employees.

To become a better supervisor (and employee) you must take your own, your supervisor's, and your employees' loci of control into account. You need not test your coworkers, merely listened to how they attribute their triumphs and failures. To succeed as a supervisor, keep this important personality concept in mind: use the supervisory style that best suits the individual - direct for externals and participatory for internals.

Your locus of control affects almost all aspects of your life. How Do You Compare? presents some of the most interesting, entertaining, and insightful. Below is one of the author's favorite examples to show you the power of this motivator.

Have You Had a Vasectomy?

Now, about that vasectomy, Mr. Smith. What have we decided?Men in India who had recently had a vasectomy were asked for the reason they had the operation. Internals reported that the operation was a "personal decision," balanced men said it was a "joint decision with wife," and surprise, surprise, externals reported that the "wife made the decision."



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