Are you a control freak?

As a manager, are you a control freak? Are you obsessing about every detail of your work, or the work you oversee? Would you rather do the task yourself, instead of delegating it? Is work pilling up on your desk, because you don’t get it out fast enough? Well, you may think your perfectionist streak is a career builder, but I’ve seen it kill more careers than it builds.
As you begin the new year, it may be time to reevaluate your work style. Consider some of the following ideas:
  • Are you a manager who only delegates pieces of a project, or not at all?  Control freaks like doing projects, rather than asking someone else to help them. “I can do it better and faster,” they claim. Or, “They don’t have the expertise.” All of these comments are either selfish or arrogant. In 2008, a study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found that motivation increases the more an individual meets three criteria: autonomy (you have control); competence (you can improve at what you are doing); and relatedness (you connect with a bigger purpose). Why are you the only one feeling motivated?Why not create this experience for others?
By not delegating, you are robbing your staff of the same satisfaction of accomplishment that you feel. If they don’t know how to do something, why aren’t you teaching them? You will not develop bench strength and will be unable to move out of the hole you’ve dug.
  • Are you worried about burdening your staff?If that’s why you stay late and take work home, there’s a good chance you are either a martyr, or a wimp. In any event, you aren’t a developer of people and the good ones will leave for someone who will help them learn and grow. Or worse, they will take full advantage of your weakness and enjoy a stress-free work life, while you toil ‘till the wee hours.
  • Do you complain about how your staff doesn’t “step up” or “can’t make any decisions?” How could they? You’re the one with all the information. And if you don’t give them a whole project that they can own, how will they ever learn responsibility and accountability? You need to delegate a project that makes them stretch to learn, and run the risk of failing. It’s kind of like complaining that your college age kids don’t know how to manage money, yet you’ve controlled their allowance and made all their financial decisions until they left home.
  • Do you have an inflated opinion of your expertise (a.k.a. insecurity about someone doing it better)?If you are secure about what you know, you aren’t worried about sharing the wealth with others. You want to help them learn and you know the more you share, the better you look…and the farther you’ll go in your career.
  • Are you worried about losing your job?It may seem counterintuitive, but the more you hoard, and try to do yourself, the worse your job security will become. Think like a senior executive: Harry won’t share what he knows. Harry won’t develop his people. If he’s hit by a bus or leaves, we will lose his expertise and no one will be able to step into his shoes. We’re losing good people under him because they can’t advance. We either have to get a second-in-command, to learn what Harry knows, or get rid of Harry. He’s a roadblock. Now, let’s change the scenario: Harry is invaluable. He develops some of the best talent we have. They have learned from him and gone on to do good things in the company. He’s valuable to us because he is a great leader.
  • Do you think, “Oh, it won’t take much time to do this myself”? I’m always amazed at how long even the simplest task can take. You have to switch gears, clear your mind, dig out your resources. Make a few calls, type a few emails, write the report. And then something happens that throws a monkey wrench in things, and that one 15-minute task has taken two hours. Why not give it to someone who can tackle it with fresh eyes and maybe learn a thing or two? Even if you ask someone to gather the pieces, do the research and present you with a recommendation, it’s better than the two hours you should have been devoting to something else. Ask yourself, “Where can I add the most value right now?”“What are my priorities right now?”
Is it time to let go of old habits and get out of your own way?

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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