Leadership Update is a free electronic monthly newsletter. In it, you’ll find strategies for helping you realize your full professional potential.
- Quotable: The Pundits Speak
- Micro-Management: The Control Trap
- Teamwork: Building a High-Performance Team
- Subscription Information
QUOTABLE: THE PUNDITS SPEAK
“For the perfectionist – as well as for the rest of us – success depends on mastering those matters over which you do have control, not on struggling with those matters over which you have no control.”
– Dr. Pierre Mornell
“We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are. We do not hear things as they are, we hear them as we are.”
– The Talmud
Micro-Management: The Control Trap
A RECENT ARTICLE in Inc. magazine describes the life of “Chris,” an honors graduate of Stanford who agreed to run her family’s Cadillac dealership after her father suffered a heart attack. She was phenomenally successful in her new role, growing the business to $100 million in sales and increasing the staff from 20 to 200 as she acquired Porsche and Lexus franchises.
Despite the success, she was miserable. Why?
- She believed no one else could do things as well as she could, so she never delegated tasks.
- To stay on top of all the details she felt she needed to master, she began working 15-hour days, but still couldn’t get to the bottom of the piles on her desk.
- As a result of longer workdays, her personal life suffered, as she put off friends, exercise and social activities for weeks on end. · She became intolerant of both big and small mistakes (her’s and everyone else’s) maintaining unrealistically high standards.
- She lost her sense of priorities, viewing small things (like opening the mail) and big things (like selling the business) with the same level of urgency.
Not surprisingly, the effects of Chris’s micro-management were chronic stress which led to migraines and stomach pain, and a demoralized, under-utilized staff.
And, unfortunately, the portrait of Chris is a common one. Among highly successful leaders, control is often how they succeeded at school, in their first jobs after college, and in business. And many of them believe that because control made them successful, it will keep them successful.
The truth is that complete control is unattainable. And for those who strive for it, the costs can be decreased morale, poor cooperation, and increased turnover, as employees are recruited by bosses who offer more flexibility and leadership opportunities for talented staff. If you think you might be a micro-manager or if you see yourself in the description of Chris, consider these points:
- Small changes – like delegating more or leaving work an hour earlier each day – are generally not enough to reform a true micro-manager. A high degree of self-awareness and readiness for significant change are necessary to break perfectionistic habits.
- Perfectionism is a response to fears we have about what will happen if we don’t control everything … fears that are often unrealistic.
- A key to breaking free from the control trap is recognizing what we can and can’t control and focusing our energies and skills on those things over which we have influence.
- Are the team’s overall goals and purposes clear to every member?
- Are values shared by team members?
- Are roles, responsibilities and individual expectations clear to each member of the team?
- Do team members communicate effectively among themselves?
- Is the team capable of identifying and solving problems effectively?
- Is leadership clear?
- Are motivation and feedback effectively and appropriately provided?
An outside consultant can help you recognize over-control and suggest ways for breaking out of perfectionism. Contact me for additional information and ideas for change or for coping with a controlling employer.
Teamwork: Building A High-Performance Team
WHETHER YOUR COMPANY has two employees or two thousand, you’ve probably observed that great results often come from highly functioning teams. And you’ve also probably recognized that aside from the technical skills that team members each bring to the table, each person’s personality style and preferred ways of relating to others, taking in information, making decisions and bringing closure to projects can significantly influence the quality of the team’s overall work.
Groups of employees often instinctively work well together, playing off each other’s strengths, using resources well, operating efficiently and delivering high-quality results. If groups within your company are not delivering excellent work, ask yourself (and them) the following questions:
There are a number of strategies for helping poor teams function more effectively, and for helping well-functioning teams operate at an even higher level. In her new book Turning Team Performance Inside Out (Davies-Black, 1999), Susan Nash suggests that the most effective way to create high-performance teams is to:
1. Evaluate the individual personality types and temperaments of team members.
2. Assess as a group what the strengths and weaknesses of those individual styles are in the group.
3. Balance those styles to maximize strengths, minimize weaknesses and function in a way that leads to the most effective communication and problem-solving.
With teams I’ve encountered, steps 1 and 2 are quite powerful because they crystallize thoughts and feelings team members may have already had but were unable to categorize quite so clearly. A theory of temperaments is used to identify personality styles, and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is used to assess other preferences, like preferred ways of taking in information and solving problems. For step 3 to succeed, team members need to identify the changes necessary for more effective team functioning, and then assess and adjust team performance regularly to assure sustained behavioral change.
For additional resources or suggestions for improving team performance, contact me at 610/642-3040.
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Copyright 2000-2004 by Dr. David A. Weiman. All rights reserved.