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
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
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?
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."