When Leaders Are Controlling

I could sense the frustration and helplessness as the meeting ended. I knew I was the problem.


I was the problem because I’m a perfectionist. I imagine that I am the best person to work on certain projects because I know the right way to do things based on history or experience (or whatever). Because of what I believe, I not only hold up projects due to my intensely packed calendar, but I also create frustration on my team.


I tried to let it go and give the project to a promising individual on my team. They were excited and began to run with it.


And then I stepped in.


Looking back, I saw this individual become confused when I first inserted myself, and then they assumed a stance of sideline helplessness.


I don’t blame them. It’s normal to feel confused and then helpless when something has been assigned, but a superior does everything you imagine you should be doing.


Most of us know that the concept of control has a lot of negative connotations in leadership. But do we really know why?





Frequently, we think of overwork for those who won’t delegate, or creating an environment that squelches creativity and innovation, or maybe we stretch as far as pointing out that too much control potentially sinks an organization.


Don’t get me wrong, all of those are true. They are side effects of control rather than the true reason a controlling leader is negative.


Here’s the point: leaders who control and do not give opportunities to those around them miss the point of leadership.


Leadership is to lead others to success.


Success comes through trial and error - through heading up projects and gaining experience that will shape future careers.


Success is frequently seen as an organizational status. The reality is that an organization is made up of individuals. If individuals aren’t successful, the organization cannot be successful.


A leader who seeks to make individuals successful and creates new leaders by putting them in charge of something and letting them gain experience will have a successful organization.

Leaders are created through giving opportunity and providing guidance. Never controlling.


Don’t pass up on the most rewarding aspect of leadership: creating other leaders.


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