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Strategic Discipline Blog

Hire the Right People - Discover Locus of Control

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Jan 20, 2020

first-who People b4 StrategyFirst WHO then WHAT. 

As Jim Collins explains in the video below, the right people are more important than the product or service you sell.

When you have the right people working for you, the product or service doesn’t matter, because the people delivering it make all the difference!


As Collins video shares, with the right people, you’re not concerned about strategy decisions, direction, and getting things done.

The right people get things done!  The right people make good decisions and move your company in the right strategic direction.

The most important function in your business then is Finding the Right People.

Any business failing to realize this is doomed.

good-to-great-Packards LawYou’ve probably left a business that couldn’t keep its good employees.  The first people to leave a failing business are the best people.  They see the signs first.

It’s another corollary from the Good to Great, Packard’s Law.

To grow your business, find the right people.

One distinguishing characteristic in all high performers is an internal Locus of Control

What Is Locus of Control

Locus of Control is behavioral psychology to study perceived control.  It is the study of self-efficacy: the power to produce intended results. It is the amount of control a person believes he must influence an outcome. It is connected to the amount of participation or effort his mind will pledge to produce results. Perceived control, attitude, and action are all linked to achievement. Locus of control is the perception of what people believe is under their control-what they think they can do and what they think they can achieve.

One person sees possibility another sees impossibility. Both may feel strongly about their position. Both may present a convincing argument to prove their way of thinking is correct. In truth, both are right. Both will essentially work in the direction toward proving themselves right.

Perception of control over attainability is like a doorway with achievement. The person with the positive, "I can" attitude sees an open door. The opening is symbolic of an available or attainable opportunity. Those who think "I can't" or "it can't be done" see a closed door or no opportunity available.

Locus of Control (Arrow)Locus of control distinguishes each type of thinking.  Those who strongly believe their actions can produce results are internally motivated. Those who believe the opposite, that their effort cannot influence results, are externally motivated.

External refers to the perception of events, whether positive or negative, as being unrelated to one's own behavior and therefore beyond personal control. Only through outside intervention do events change. Slogan: "I wish I were luckier!"

Internal refers to the perception of events, whether positive or negative, as being a consequence of one’s own actions and therefore potentially under personal control.  Slogan “The more I sweat the luckier I get.”  

The Groups are labeled the way they are (internal and external) because of who is believed to be in charge or control of determining results.

Why Locus of Control is so Important  

Achievement Starts in the Mind. We usually don't analyze and connect our successes and failures to how much power and control we feel we either have or lack.

The feeling of powerlessness parallels with the feeling of being a victim. The saying, "There are no victims, only those who think that they are" is about learned helplessness. People place victim status on themselves. Their view or focus shifts away from their own control and onto the outside world controlling them.

I recall comedian Flip Wilson, "The devil made me do it!"-conveniently shifting responsibility off of himself.

LOCUS OF CONTROL (Gingerbread)This shifting process is where control is relinquished. Unaware of this habit or an alternative, people become blind to their own control.

Externals let circumstances determine who they are. Events and situations rule their world and then become the excuses for a lack of results. Excuses become habit.  The most obvious difference is that an excuse is a replacement for results, ending the need for more action.

We all want to hire someone who will get results and not make excuses.

How to Discover A Candidates Locus of Control

You can discover a candidate’s locus of control in many ways. 

In Topgrading screening interviews, we ask candidates about their two recent jobs; what mistakes did they make or what they’d do differently. We ask them to rate their manager’s strengths and weaknesses, the rating the manager would give them as well as a rating they’d give based on their performance.

The answers they provide reveal their level of accountability and control of their outcomes.

On Friday I interviewed a woman who told me how she’d moved on from a job despite liking her manager/the owner, because she realized she wasn’t ever going to get the position she felt she deserved and was actually already earning based on the work she was doing (Operations Manager) 

She loved this man, his style, how he’d built the business.  She took responsibility for all the extra effort she’d put in, what she’d accomplished and did for the company, despite a lack of reward and compensation she’d felt earned. She took responsibility for where she was and that she’d never get the opportunity.

She made the decision (“The more I sweat the luckier I get.”) to search for another opportunity.  She took control of her circumstances.

That’s the kind of person I want to hire, and the kind of person I recommend my customers hire.

Let us know if we can help you. 

Acheive Execution Excellence BP Guarantee poster-3Growth demands Strategic Discipline.

To build an enduring great organization, requires disciplined people, disciplined thought, disciplined action, to produce superior results, and make a distinctive impact in the world.

Discipline sustains momentum, over a long period of time, laying the foundations for lasting endurance.

A winning habit starts with 3 Strategic DisciplinesPriorityMetrics and Meeting Rhythms.   Forecasting, accountability, individual, and team performance improve dramatically.

Meeting Rhythms achieve a disciplined focus on performance metrics to drive growth.

Let Positioning Systems help your business achieve these outcomes on the Four most Important Decisions your business faces:












Positioning Systems helps mid-sized ($5M - $250M) business Scale-UP. We align your business to focus on Your One Thing!  Contact to Scale Up your business! Take our Four Decisions Needs Assessment to discover how your business measures against other Scaled Up companies. We’ll contact you.

Karolines Social Media Blog austin-distel-tLZhFRLj6nY-unsplashNEXT BLOG – Social Media

Next week I’m with a customer for 2020 annual planning.  Next week Karoline Clarke will share an article on Utilizing Social Media To Further Your Company’s Strategic Plan. She’ll be sharing metrics, developing a customer engagement strategy, how to humanize your social media and more.  That’s next blog.

Topics: People, People Decisions, Locus of Control, The Right People, Topgrading, People Decisions,

Challenges of Scaling Up a Business 







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Certified Gazelles Coach

Doug Wick, President

Positioning Systems


The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

Our 3 disciplines include:

- Priorities
- Metrics
- Meeting Rhythms

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