Sometimes when one claims to be enduring micromanagement from a leader, the person is actually experiencing good leadership. A good leader understands the skill and experience of each person on the team and adjusts the approach accordingly. Sometimes, because the person is new or unproven, good leadership means being more involved, giving more direction. However, if a person on your team is skilled, proven, and has a great attitude, then you are indeed micromanaging if you don’t hand freedom, authority, and decision-making to the person.
Micromanagers typically can’t help themselves. Beneath the surface there are at least three underlying beliefs or practices that cause the micromanagement. You are a micromanager if:
You treat everyone the same
Some of the worst leadership advice you have heard: Be fair and treat everyone the same. You must not treat every person on your team the same way because each person on your team is different. If your leadership philosophy, your thinking that guides your practice, is to approach every person the same way because you think that is fair, you will default to the lowest common denominator on your team. Meaning, you will treat everyone on the team the way you treat the most unseasoned, inexperienced, and unproven person. You will inevitably micromanage your best leaders if you treat everyone on your team the same way.
You don’t trust the trustworthy
The best way to run off great leaders from your team is not to trust them. Yes, every one of us is broken, messed-up, imperfect, and plagued with issues. But there are those who have been faithful, who have a proven track record, who have handled responsibility well. These people should be trusted until they invalidate the trust they have been given. If you have leadership “trust issues,” your lack of trust will manifest itself in micromanagement.
You HAVE to know everything
If you believe responding to a question with, “I don’t know; I can check, but someone else on our team handles that,” is a sign of weakness, then you are a micromanager at the core. If you are a control freak who believes knowing everything about the area you lead shows you are a great leader, you actually are not a great leader. Needing to know everything will greatly limit the scope of your leadership. Needing to know everything will slow down the team and demotivate the most competent team members.
If you would like to limit your impact, run off great leaders, demotivate a team, and slow things down—keep micromanaging. If not, look beneath the surface at what causes your micromanagement.