How would I know if I am legitimately holding people accountable or hurtfully micromanaging them?

Some of you may have taken the DISC assessment (which I use with all my coaching  clients.)  There is a section where it compares how you perceive yourself with how others perceive you.

For example, strong visionary types might see themselves as:

  • Pioneering
  • Positive
  • Assertive
  • Confident

 On the other hand, others may see them as:

  • Demanding
  • Egotistical
  • Aggressive
  • Controlling

One of these comparison situations that has gotten a lot of leaders in trouble is:

1.  They see themselves as appropriately holding people accountable

2.  Others see them as inappropriately micromanaging as they stifle creativity, innovation and gifting

Honestly, I have fallen into that situation myself.  I want to see things done in a certain way and, at times, rob people of doing it differently but still effectively.

I think the key is for a leader to work with people in such a way so as to keep the person motivated, encouraged and producing results without clipping their wings or doing all of their thinking for them. I am sure that trust plays a good part in this. The more I trust people, the less I need to “keep an eye on them,” which is negatively perceived and experienced as micromanaging.

If I don’t trust them to do what they have been assigned to do, I will more than likely wind up over-controlling them in some way and not see it for what it is.

The fact of the matter is that the more freedom you give people to fulfill their roles the way they’d like to, and are gifted to, the more satisfaction they’ll get from their work and the more quality work they will do.

If leaders insist on doing all the thinking for their organizations; if everything has to be done their way, what’s left for the people who work for them to be proud of– proud in a good sense.

How much personal satisfaction can there be in doing a job where people are asked to do things that are pretty much planned and dictated by someone else? Unfulfilled and controlled people can be just as serious a problem in the church or market place as inefficient methods.

Creating a climate that gives people a high degree of independence takes a lot of leadership skill.  It also hinges on the content of a job along with the judgment and ability of the person handling it. 

As a leader, if you have been accused of micromanaging (and are beginning to believe you are), here are a few ideas for you:

1.  Give capable people a clear idea of the results you want to achieve and leave the methods to them. Together, establish some stretching but realistic agreed-upon goals and then set them free to accomplish them in their own way.

2.  Suggest methods rather than dictating them, with the understanding that people are free to devise something better.

3.  Consult people affected by a problem or a proposed change, asking them for their ideas, regardless of whether you think you need them or not.

4.  Enrich jobs by delegating decisions as far down the line as possible.  If a person on your team (or in your employ) is capable of making certain decisions effectively, why have it referred to someone else?  Read “Levels of Authority” by Michael Hyatt found under the “Articles” tab at for some excellent ideas on how to do this.

5.  Guide people to think of constructive suggestions you may already have in mind as opposed to simply announcing them yourself. Personal ownership empowers and motivates.

6.  Get weigh-in and buy-in before making decisions. People who have input in the development of a plan are much more likely to be interested in carrying out that plan.

7.  Eliminate as many rules and regulations as possible and allow people freedom and creativity as long as they produce excellent results. Let’s be honest. A lot of rules, policies and guidelines exist because we don’t trust the people we’ve hired (or recruited as volunteers) to work with us.

Leaders who successfully practice these seven ideas will enjoy excellent morale and discover that people actually get more done and do it with a great attitude.