Thursday, July 30, 2009

7 Common "Ego Traps" for Leaders: Trap #2

Ego Trap #2: "If I don't stay on top of their work, mistakes will be made."

Translation: "I'm a control freak." Though you'd be more likely to describe it in more glowing terms, such as "I have a high value for excellence in all that we do," "I feel a lot of personal responsibility for the work," "I just care so much about the quality of all we create," or the like. Sound familiar? The classic sign of this ego trap is micromanagement, the surprise pop-ins, the constant compulsion to check up on people all the time, to make sure they're "on top of it," the second-guessing of decisions they make along the way.

The deeper issue here is the tendency to delegate responsibility but not real authority. Leaders who fall into this ego trap lose sight of the fact that leadership is a developmental process--for all of us. You didn't get where you are without giving yourself permission to risk and make mistakes. You've blown it more than a few times along the way. But you learned from those mistakes, picked yourself up, and went on to do it better next time. To lead well, you have to let other people do the same. If you can't allow the people on your team to take the ball and run with it even if it means they'll fumble and lose a game here and there, then you are probably stuck in this ego trap. You're a puppetmaster. And you've got your people dangling from your strings of control.

If you don't cut the strings, and give your people real authority over whatever you're asking them to do, they won't stay with you long. And the best among them will be the first to leave.


Brad Ruggles said...

Well said bro. I know that because of my creative/perfectionist personality I have the propensity to micro-manage. It's hard as a leader to see something one way in your head and then see it articulated differently by your team. Learning to lead without being a control freak is the only way that both you and your team can grow.

Giving them responsibility AND authority allows them to learn from their mistakes (just like we had to) and, more importantly, helps them become better leaders.

Great post and a great series. Can't wait to read the rest.

Michael D. Warden said...

Thanks Brad. I'm hoping (and expecting) to learn from this series as much as I offer.

Grace to you.

Michelle Brown said...

Seems to me that trust issues are at the root of micromanagement. And, depending on where you go with the rest of the series, trust issues could be at the root of more than one ego trap.

Maybe trust issues are at the root of all of them. Hmmm...

Jenifer said...

Learning to lead without being a control freak is the only way that both you and your team can grow.

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