Control versus Influence

Are you focused on controlling youth or influencing them? If you experience much stress when interacting with children, chances are that you are trying to control them. Because controllees have low motivation to carry out decisions IMPOSED on them, as scores of research have documented, enforcement is both difficult and time-consuming. This is very evident in schools where teachers spend so much classroom time “playing police”—enforcing their rules or the administration’s rules.

Aiming at controlling people is really focusing on controlling the body and hoping the brain follows. In contrast, influencing people, whereby you aim at the brain and have the body follow. is less stressful and far more effective.

Controlling people aims at obedience. Except where the relationship is so strong that the controllee feels that the control is in his or her own best interest, control rarely brings either desire or commitment.

Control is only temporary. In contrast, influence is long-lasting and far-reaching. In the final analysis, people change themselves. The most effective way to actuate change in others is through enlightened leadership. This type of leader leads through the vision they project and the manner in which they treat others.

Successful leaders and teachers empower, not overpower. They are positive, not negative. They encourage others by sharing their expectations, not by telling others what to do. These leaders treat people with dignity and respect knowing that, in the vast majority of cases, people will reflect on their own choices and make ones that meet the leader’s expectations.