The dangers of too much control


The dangers of too much control

Many managers -not leader- are incapable of delegating work. By insisting on controlling everything, they are setting up a dangerous minefield that may bring serious problems in the future.

Steve Jobs believed that teamwork relies on being able to trust others to do their part without supervision. What’s more, he added, if you want to have good people working for you, you need to let them make decisions, otherwise the best people won’t want to stick around.

As a life coach, I often come across people who are really stressed; who insist on controlling every aspect of their subordinates’ work, making them incapable of delegating, and, without them realising it, the message they are transmitting to their employees is that they don’t know how to do their job; that things can only be done their way, and that their employees have neither the training nor the skill necessary, and that they have nothing useful to offer. In short, that they don’t trust them.

This form of management, rather than leadership, makes the people under them either submissive or rebellious. Submissive employees obey orders. They stop feeling involved, making decisions, feeling engaged, and having a sense of responsibility. What’s more, their sense of self-esteem and motivation are diminished. Too much control leads to yet more control, creating the kind of vicious circle that can be more and more difficult to escape. Those who rebel, flout the rules, complain, and, if given the opportunity, will sabotage all projects.

The overly-controlling manager clearly feels a strong sense of responsibility. They seek perfection, even though it may not exist. Naturally, they want to achieve their goals. They probably don’t wish to hinder their colleagues’ professional development, and want them to feel as engaged as they do. However, is that what they achieve?

What great leaders in history have in common is their ability to manage teams, divvying up the work between the team, and allowing each member to maximise their potential. Too much control takes up too much time – time better spent on new tasks, finding alternative solutions, coming up with strategies, finding alternatives, making decisions, helping the team to grow, and facilitating change. Of course, this doesn’t mean that delegating tasks means that nobody is supervising.

We know that those who delegate not only achieve things, they increase their achievements. So, why don’t you delegate?

Victoria Gimeno. Director Institutional Relations. IE Business School

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