In today’s world, being a conscious benevolent leader matters. We live in perhaps the most stirring and electrifying economic period in our lifetime. New realities are happening. To thrive and flourish in the decade ahead will require a different mindset in addition to a more conscious way of leading and being in the world.
To meet the challenges of the next decade—and to take full advantage of the possibilities, you need to cultivate the ability to lead with conscious awareness and most important to avoid micromanaging. Unfortunately, many business people trained in traditional leadership paradigms have become convinced that they must keep their focus and apply the level of intensity, scrutiny and in-your-face approach to the way they manage their staff, whether warranted or not.
Undeniably, paying attention to details and making sure the work is getting done are important. So, it is easy for many leaders to misidentify that in order to make sure the work is getting done right they need to engage in an explicit managing process and dictate how to get to that result. This misidentification often leads to micromanaging. When you micromanage, you are asking for problems!
Some might argue that to create a successful business, leaders must set standards and keep their staff from running amok or becoming disorderly and undisciplined. That may be true in some cases, but when you micromanage and set a rigid standard based on what’s right vs. wrong, you have done your business and everyone in it a disservice.
We are not suggesting that organizations should function in an unconscious environment of “whatever....” Nor are we suggesting that business should not aim to deliver exceptional quality to agreed-upon standards. However, standards should not be used as a context for measuring people’s behaviour or performance.
The willingness to change doesn’t mean steering an organization with no strategic vision or clarity of direction. On the contrary, leaders must generate a conscious strategy—one that has substantial flexibility and suppleness built into it. Strategy should be developed and continuously reaffirmed. Leaders should also continuously ask: “What have we missed?” and make changes when required.
Unfortunately, people who function based on micromanagement often misidentify and misapply the notion of what a standard is. They tend to use standards to judge people—and they do so continuously. They do not allow the free flow of information regarding performance, financials, strategy, and other areas. They actively cultivate a climate of fear and punishment through systematized organizational disincentives, and they have such rigid mindsets and standards that no other possibilities are allowed. They are focused on structure and processes that create order and are not open to change.
"Micromanagement is a sure-fire way not to have joy in your life. Micromanaging is like planting a little seed. You poke it in the ground, water it and cover it up. Then you go back a day later, pull the seed out and ask, “Are you growing yet? No? Hey, what’s going on? I thought you were going to grow.” Then you put it back in the ground, water it, come back the next day and pull it out again. After about ten days of this, the seed is dead." ~ Gary Douglas
Micromanagement tends to squelch originality and awareness. It teaches your staff to become risk averse. An overemphasis on standardization and micromanagement deters people from engendering out-of-scope opportunities and encourages them to hold back on the exploration for new strategic advantage.
You are micromanaging when you:
When you micromanage, you are asking for problems. It is sheer absurdity for leaders to think they can competently micromanage their entire business themselves. If you find yourself (like many conventional business leaders) telling yourself, “I gotta take care of this issue, this problem, or this person. I gotta to do this and I gotta do that,” you are probably micromanaging your staff. This isn’t your job as a leader.
Your job is to hire the right people for the job and surround yourself with people who are competent and skillful—and then to allow them to do what they are good at without your interference. Individual contributions tend to be inhibited in organizations that have rigid policy, procedure, and micromanagement processes. If not curbed, the tendency to micromanage can metastasize into an unwholesome fondness for conformity, where novel ideas and new possibilities are seen as dangerous deviations from standard operating procedure.
Chutisa and Steven Bowman are a global business advisor, author and speaker who has spent the past 30+ years working with many top society changing companies and entrepreneurs of our time. She is recognized worldwide as a Pragmatic Futurist and “thought leader” on: strategic awareness; conscious leadership; prosperity consciousness; business transformation in a period of economic uncertainty; and Benevolent Capitalism.