Misleading Conduct # 7 – Micromanaging Your People


Mis-leaders focus on the insignificant. They go deep into the organisation and tell others how to do their job.

Mis-leadership through micromanagement is guaranteed to make people fearful on several levels:

  • They will fear that you think they can’t do their job;
  • They will be afraid that you are up to something, but they won’t know what it is;
  • They will worry and be afraid that you are keeping something (information etc.) from them that will help them do their job better;
  • They will think that they had better stay out of communication with others, or that if they interact with others it should be to share gossip, act politically etc.

Focusing on insignificant things is the classic tactic of fiddling while Rome burns. Everyone knows that big things are usually going on if the company is progressing, but when they see the ultimate leader of the organisation focusing instead on the trivial and the inconsequential this will drive them into emotional panic. It’s the 21st century equivalent of the mass panic in Rome while Nero practiced his violin. In these situations the organisation itself becomes paralyzed because the leadership is seen to be uncaring, uncomprehending, unskilled or all of the above.

None of the options available to followers are great. They can:

  •  Jump ship, an option usually for the strong and the gifted.
  • Stay and step into the gap, an option taken up by very few, and often only if they see that there is a real prospect for change,
  • They choose the  most common outcome, they pull their heads in and hope that they will survive when it has all blown over them.

Have you worked for a micromanaging misleader and, if so, tell us how you coped?

Author: This post is by Ian Sampson (B.Comm., LLB., FAICD, FAIM). Ian is a Cause and Effective Associate (www.causeandeffective.info). He is a Strategic Advisor to Boards, an Executive Coach and a Facilitator of our Powerful Leadership in Action Program. He can be contacted here.

Ian’s other posts in his “Misleading Conduct” series are:

Leaders Behaving Badly; Misleading Conduct #1 – Not Providing Context; Misleading Conduct #2 – Not Providing Space For Your People; Misleading Conduct # 3- Justifying Poor Performance; Misleading Conduct #4: – Making Lousy Decisions or No Decisions At All; Misleading Conduct #5 – Lacking Integrity in Your Personal and Professional Life; Misleading Conduct #6 – Misconducting Yourself

About B-Cause

B-Cause is published by Cause and Effective. We help good causes find and attract effective leaders.

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