I was having a discussion with someone the other day about the idea of leading vs. controlling. Do you lead by telling everyone what to do, or do you provide guidance and then step back?
At times I often find myself falling into the pattern of controlling - especially since becoming a parent. We are so used to directing all aspects of our family life and schedules that we sometimes forget it is okay to just provide direction and allow things to happen on their own. That little controlling voice inside my head does creep up every now and then and creates more chaos than order. For example, how many times are we attempting to run out the door in the morning to get the kids to school on time and one of them is not quite moving as quickly as you would like. Instead of making them responsible for their own actions, you just pull together the homework from last night and stuff it in the backpack at break-neck speed while grabbing their hat and gloves to throw in the car, just to make it easier. Instead of using these moments as a teaching tool for our children, we just become frustrated and act like crazed lunatics. How productive is that?
Is this a pattern with your employees? Micromanaging their every move to the point that you would just rather do the job yourself since they won't do it in the manner you want. Or better yet, do you find it easier to do it yourself than try to explain once again how you want it done when they didn't get it right the first time they tried?
I believe ego plays a big role in this type of behavior. Over the years, we have held positions because we are good at what we do. When we have to share these tasks with others, we become the "all-knowing" one, the person who can perform the task better than anyone. It is difficult to provide guidance and take the big step back. With our children, we want them to be able to perform a task and not struggle. So, as the parent, we will step in immediately when they make a mistake or have problems. It is no different with our employees. We often jump in to save the day when all they really need is additional guidance or coaching to help them learn. As their leader, that is our job, to provide guidance and assistance so they can thrive - not control their every move.
As a leader, do you like to pull the puppet strings?