Continuum of Influence

I attended a workshop by Ainsley Rose at the 2016 TLC Conference in Dallas.  During the workshop, he asked participants to order a list of words to create a continuum of influence.

coerce, coach, manipulate, aspire, advise, motivate, persuade inspire

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The group as a whole created the following continuum:

  1. Coerce
  2. Manipulate
  3. Persuade
  4. Advise
  5. Coach
  6. Motivate
  7. Inspire
  8. Aspire

This taxonomy goes from an external locus of control to an internal locus of control.

I had some thinking about the words that differed.  Here’s my taxonomy and my thinking behind it: 

  1. Coerce — this is when I use out and out force to get someone to do what I want them to do.  It is about brute force (whether physical, mental, or emotional).  It is strictly about MY will superceding YOUR will.  I have the power and the authority to demand that you comply with my will.
  2. Manipulate — in this instance, it is still about my will superceding your will.  But I am on a slightly more equal footing with you.  I do not FORCE your compliance, I mold your compliance, often without your explicit consent.  
  3. Persuade — the shift here is to tacit consent.  I am still in the one-up position.  My will still prevails.  But you give consent to it in some way.  You are convinced or coaxed in some way into agreeing with me.  
  4. Advise — Your consent becomes explicit here.  You have the right to ignore my advice.  You become at least somewhat a co-thinker in the process.  I am still “one-up”.  Synonyms for this include; recommend, admonish, direct, instruct.  
  5. Motivate — this word still seems to imply that I am in the superior position, but now YOU have shifted to the driver’s seat.  Not only are you free to ignore my advice, but you are free to steer.  I am no longer providing specific directions or steps to follow.  I am in a less prescriptive role, but I am still pushing your actions.  
  6. Inspire – In this situation I am still most definitely “one-up”.  I am arousing or exciting you to something.  I am doing it TO you still.  Synonyms here are: provoke, spur, galvanize, cause.  As in all of the others, the goal is for you to take action, but I am the provoker of that action completely.  You are passive in the verb itself.
  7. Aspire — Again, I perceive this to still be a one-up position.  You “aspire” to be like me? There is a slight shift here, however.  Now the verb is something that YOU do.  You are the actor in aspire.  I cannot aspire for you, you have to aspire for yourself.  Synonyms include yearn, dream, strive.  This is when I make you CRAVE doing something.  The challenge here is that it is still something where I am somehow the model or at least the one who points to the model or ideal.
  8. Coach — This is a tricky word, but I believe that it lives at the top of this hierarchy.  Typically, in general culture, a coach is a teacher or trainer.  The coach calls the plays, plans the strategy, and is the “boss” of the team.  But in the world of Instructional Coaching, we take a more Rogerian approach to coaching.  The coach is the one who hones, who provides a mirror for reflection.  When coaching takes this form, suddenly the recipient is the primary actor.  YOU decide the goal, the vision.  All that the coach provides is sharpening of a strategy to achieve it or feedback about your success along that pathway.  YOU are the actor both in the mental work and the ensuing action itself.  This is a huge, fundamental shift and one that should not be underestimated.