Leadership And Control

Leadership requires control, but means taking responsibility and caring for others.

You may have been in business situations where the model of leadership centers heavily around control. A person who has a need for control is not necessarily bad. Without control, it is difficult to navigate to a goal, especially with many people or resources to manage.

We use controls to get our vehicles to a destination. We use control to teach and mentor kids. It is required to make things happen.

The problem arises when there are abuses, negligence or insecurities that arise from the a leadership style that asserts the wrong kind of control. Here are some voids that can create issues:

  • Control without responsibility. This is not leadership. If you can sense someone trying to manage every detail or pressure on every nuance, this may be a management style that has worked at times for certain types of unsuspecting people. Ask the person to own a decision or take responsibility. If they cannot do this, it exposes their deficit. To me, you don’t get to control if you won’t take responsibility. I find a lot of people managing to this. Shame on you if you let them. Who the heck wants to be controlled and held responsible?
  • Control without vision. It is easy to get lost in the minutiae. If you live there solely without context, then an overall picture can get lost. I see this in systems development work all the time. People customize a field without thought to the repercussions across the system. Or they add needless amounts of forms for customers to fill out at the cost of no sign-ups. All the data or endless customizations may be comforting for data junkies, but you can miss the customer or build inelegant, unusable systems. Vision has to be part of anything great, not just a bunch of disjointed upgrades, modifications and changes.
  • Control without caring. You may have to serve your customer who has endless requests without thought for your time. They may not think it through and pass on inefficiencies to you. This often creates resentment. There is a lack of care and respect. Going through endless revisions can get sloppy if the requester has not did their due diligence of thinking through their requests and the impacts. A good strategy for this is to ensure there is a cost injected into the process. If there are continual requests, place a price that costs something so that the requester shares the burden of their need for control. If it’s free, why wouldn’t they simply serve their natural impulse?

I think many people get stuck. They feel controlled by pseudo-leadership or one of these types of dynamics that create resentment in the relationship. If you can recognize what is happening and respond according to the root issue, then it forces good leadership or disengagement. Both are a better result than reluctant compliance.

How have you handled unreasonable control? Feel free to comment below.

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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