The Perils of Micromanagement

The difference between leadership and management is often debated, but I once read a very simple distinction that I think says it all: you lead people and manage their work. There's a reason you lead (and not manage) people to success yet micromanage (not microlead) them.

When a good leader is not also a good manager, people may be motivated but nothing gets done. And when a good manager is not also a good leader, things may get done, but there is no employee engagement. Both are necessary for a successful business and team.

A micromanager is neither a good leader nor manager: no one is motivated to do their best if someone is watching or questioning their every move, nor will things get done efficiently in such a scenario. Plus, a micromanager is either not getting his/her own work done or has to work overtime to do so, given all the time spent micromanaging.

And being micromanaged demoralizes everyone eventually, even overachievers, as I can attest to.

All of this gets worst the more senior and experienced you get. What is somewhat expected and tolerable when you're starting out is wrong and wasteful at the higher levels. And if you've hired someone in a director or higher-level position and feel the need to micromanage them, then you've either made a bad hire, since you obviously don't trust them to do their job, or you yourself are not ready for your role.

Just like parents have to allow their children to grow up and make their own mistakes, leaders have to allow their team to do the same. Focus on the work only you can do and be there to support and guide your team, but do not set them up for failure by micromanaging them.

Takeaway: micromanaging is never appropriate; instead, support and guide.


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