Recently, while reading a book about good leadership, I read that what many people need is more direction and less instruction. My first thought was that this idea would make a good post.

Here it is!

It’s been my conviction for quite some time that most people and organizations, Christian or not, are over-managed and under-led.  People in leadership roles should be spending time giving more direction and less time instructing people on every detail.

I know there are exceptions to this, like working on an assembly line or in a job where every action is pre-determined by a manual to insure quality control.

Additionally, I’ve observed that people generally don’t like to be over-managed—having someone always looking over their shoulder telling them how to do everything, rather than letting the person figure it out for themselves. People are okay with someone having oversight but not so keen on someone being overbearing.

I’ve been in the leader-development business for 55 years now and can honestly say I’ve never met a worker who enjoyed and desired to be over-managed—put in a box, have their wings clipped and told how to do every little thing. Some initial training during the onboarding but, after that let them spread their wings and fly—experiment, try new things and different ways of doing old things.

Hire people whom you trust and then trust those you hire. If you don’t trust them to be able to do what you want to have done, then don’t hire them or give them the responsibility. Doing it differently doesn’t mean they’re  doing it wrong. Over time, it  could very well be better—believe it or not!

Vet people well, new-hires as well as volunteers; then, when you pull the trigger and bring them on, turn them loose, get out of their way and watch what happens.

I believe most overbearing and over-managing leaders think they’re doing the right thing in a quest for excellence, but this type of overbearing leadership—doing all the thinking for others—will lead to discouragement, kill initiative and stifle innovation and originality.

More direction would translate into providing clarity on where we’re going and why we’re going there. That needs to be provided to those being led.

Less instruction would be to not tell people what to do and when to do it.

Give those you lead the where and why and leave the how and when up to them.

Give capable people a clear idea of the result(s) you want to achieve and leave the methods to them.  Establish some stretching but realistic agreed-upon goals together and then set them free to figure out how to accomplish it.

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

Love to hear your comments on this!