Observing leadership in organizations for many years has revealed a very common outcry by employees, “ My boss is a micromanager.”  And yet, there are few leaders who would admit to being one.  Both experiences are valid because this issue is based on perspective, thus, the disconnect.  Employees may not understand the complexities of leading an organization that have created a ‘hands-on’ approach. And employers often cannot recognize the symptoms of micromanaging that they are exhibiting.

In the early stages of launching a business or an organization, leaders necessarily need to handle many aspects of day-to-day operations and decisions. In fact, this can be a foundation for success. However, for sustainable health and growth, a higher level of leadership is needed.
John Maxwell calls this the Law of the Lid.  “Leadership ability (to influence others to assume responsibility for the work) is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness.”  By raising and developing your leadership ability you can raise your original effectiveness many times over. Leaders who continue to grow have a multiplying effect.

12 Clues You May Be a Micromanager
Adapted from Tony Morgan


  1. You are overwhelmed. 
It could be because you are afraid to delegate the big, important projects to others.


  1. You lean on your strong personality to mobilize the team. If you’re not present, there isn’t progress.


  1. Rather than shaping the “what,” you are also compelled to define the “how.” You tend to dive into the execution rather than focusing on the outcomes.


  1. You can’t unplug and enjoy a weekend or a vacation. Because you don’t empower others, you are always on call. You are constantly checking your phone for messages.


  1. You feel like you are the only person who can set and monitor your high standards.


  1. You have to be involved in every decision. When your team senses this is the case, they will bring you every decision. That will include all the major decisions where you should be involved, but it will also include all the minor decisions that are wasting your time.

  1. You require employees to submit many, needless reports to monitor their activity. Again, you’re more focused on how people are using their time. You should be more focused on whether or not the team is winning.


  1. You need to know where everyone is all the time. If you get upset that an employee doesn’t answer their phone or immediately respond to your texts, you are the problem.


  1. You feel like you are the only person bringing new ideas to the table. That’s because you’ve created a culture of fear. You’ve trained them to wait for you to tell them what to do and how to do it.


  1. You tell yourself, “It’ll be faster if I do it myself.”
 It’s also the easiest way for you to maintain control. In the long-run, you will be able to accomplish more as a team if you delegate and empower others.


  1. You don’t have a strategic plan to define what’s important for the future. Instead, you’re focused on the small details around what’s most urgent.


  1. You are experiencing high employee turnover. 
That’s because high-capacity leaders won’t work for micromanagers for very long.

Ways to take your effectiveness to the next level.


  • Decide you want to become a better leader. Make an internal decision first.


  • Communicate your decision. First. share with your circle of trust, but also include  the team you want to empower.


  • Recruit help. Leaders don’t grow by themselves. Enlist a leadership coach, or join a group of other leaders focused on development. Read leadership books and articles.


  • Ask for feedback. Your team will help you grow and improve if you are open to their insights.


  • Take Small Steps. Don’t change everything at once. Small steps over time will create a healthy, stable, and growing leadership culture.

Powerful Coaching Action: Sincerely ask people you lead if they see you as a micromanager.


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