The Circle of Influence

During a time where most of us feel that much is out of our control, or that we’re struggling to find the right way to initiate change, learning to lead without authority may be the most efficient route to regain some semblance of order. Whether it be in our professional world, in our personal life, or in our community, it’s empowering to know that regardless of what may seem so uncertain, we can control ourselves and how we interact with others.

In an interactive Access Tallahassee Power Lunch, Ashley Mudd talked with members from our young professionals organization about different ways to “lead without authority”. Ashley joined us from Lafayette, LA where she serves as the Executive Director of the Leadership Institute of Acadiana.

So what is leading without authority? To sum it up, it’s all about influence. “The key to all leadership regardless of your title is to get others to willingly cooperate and engage rather than just follow directions.” The influence you have on your coworkers, friends, family, and even strangers goes above and beyond a title or a level of control. Where it is that you can apply influence will look different for everyone, but if you want to lead with influence you will need to spend time working on interpersonal skills and continuously work on yourself. To dive a little deeper into how to lead through influence, Ashley used an adaptation of Stephen Covey’s Circle of Control to drill down on some great takeaways.

Circle of Control – There are very few things that are fully in our Circle of Control, and we often lose sight of what those things are and end up channeling our energy in the wrong direction. This is where it becomes important to focus on self-management and getting to know yourself. Start getting to know your strengths, your triggers, and what really matters. Focus on the small things that YOU can control.

Circle of Influence – Once self-management has been tackled, you can move into the Circle of Influence. Your Circle of Influence entirely depends on the relationships that you build. Fostering relationships in all settings is important, but listening, asking authentic questions, and taking the time to get to know those around you is essential. Ashley said one needs to have “an awareness of other feelings and suspend judgment when you listen so that you can understand what people are saying”.

Circle of Concern – Finally, the Circle of Concern. It can seem as though we have no power in this realm, but what you can control is where you cast your vision. What change do you want to implement? What change do you hope to see within your organization, your community, the charities you serve? You need to be able to communicate the positive changes you’re envisioning and learn how to expend your energy while bringing others along with you.

Those who participated in the Power Lunch walked away inspired to reflect on their own abilities to influence and committed to holding each other accountable for the small things they want to implement in their own worlds. Through Access Tallahassee, our team works to connect and engage the next generation of local young professionals. As one myself, I know that now is the time we take the reigns in an impactful way. I hope you find Ashley’s message powerful and encourage emerging leaders around you to get involved with Access Tallahassee. Feel free to reach out to me at for any questions!