Control freak-ishness: noun, the tendency towards micromanagement as a coping mechanism for dealing with fear (and unchecked ego)
Control freak-ishness is a strategy, albeit a dysfunctional strategy, for dealing with fear. Fear that something will go wrong if the control freak eases up on the reins a bit. Is that you? If you’re the resident group control freak, the first thing to do is to own it and acknowledge it. You care A LOT, and that’s not a bad thing. We see you. Let’s redirect some of that focus.
Inventory what it is that’s got you so wound up? Do you lack trust in the other stakeholders? Have you been burned before? Does the pressure behind executing this project exactly right feel so heavy that you’ve gone into full lockdown mode? Are you able to acknowledge that other people in your group have valuable capabilities and perspectives to offer? Do you and only you have a monopoly on ideas and answers?
Whether you’re a group leader, a group member, or some combination of the two, getting a handle on your inner control freak should be a top priority. There are better ways of dealing with your anxiety, better ways of motivating and supporting the people around you, and there are certainly better outlets for your abundant energy. Join us as we unravel this (very tightly wound) ball of yarn….
Prioritize the three ingredients to motivation
What is the recipe for individual motivation within the group? Ready? Drumroll please……….
Motivation = autonomy + mastery + purpose
We are borrowing this formula from Daniel H. Pink’s book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Pink theorizes that control freaks lead with the carrot and the stick, reward and punishment. In truth, a better and more highly motivating approach would be to keep an eye toward fostering autonomy, mastery and purpose within the group. But what does that mean?
How leaders can foster autonomy:
acknowledging the talent in the room…and trusting the talented people to do some of the steering
Giving people autonomy means that leaders acknowledge the talent in the room and give it room to express itself, instead of focusing on compliance and “the how.” At the LeadershipFreak blog, they say it like this: “Courageously give talented people freedom to design strategies, plans, and accountabilities.” Hint: empowering the group to come up with good ideas that they are fired up about and accountable for implementing is a great way to get people more highly engaged with the outcome, aka the very thing that you, the control freak, are actually the most concerned with. Being outcome-oriented instead of process-oriented is a big shift, but it’s one worth making for the long term success and satisfaction of the group.
How leaders can foster purpose:
making sure that the group has a shared understanding of the goal, and then getting out of the way while they execute the plan
Nobody really likes working with the “my way or the highway” person. Right? We can all agree on that. As long as everyone in the group is in alignment about what the desired outcomes are then it’s likely preferable to give members the leeway to hold up their end of the bargain in the way that works for them. This is the spirit of empowerment: we all want the same things, and we all have the tools and skills to get there without being babysat. At the end of the day does it matter if group members slice the PB&J on the diagonal or the vertical? After all, it’s in the canon of the World’s Best Sandwiches regardless.
Another strategy for controlling your inner control freak is to do something else with the time you ordinarily spend checking up on people to see that they’re doing things your way. What can you do instead? Offer support and be the person fetching the right sized wrenches. Here’s where the ego check comes in. You’re putting that overactive conviction that you and only you know the right way to execute the plan to rest for a bit. Instead of commanding, you’re approaching your empowered, capable, and visionary group members to ask if there’s any assistance that you can offer as they implement the plans and strategies for which they have taken responsibility. Leadership with a servant’s heart: it’s a much better look for you, and a much more effective way of driving engagement and results through the roof.
How leaders can foster mastery:
As the group gets more and more proficient (and efficient), put systems in place to keep the team accountable and consistent
The best way to keep yourself honest is to integrate some systems that will truly decentralize your leadership. This way, people have access to the resources and tools they need, and you get to get out of the hot-seat. No more micromanagement, no more martyrdom, no more asinine paper shuffling, and a much higher chance of success and longevity for you and for the group.
This is the most practical piece of advice we have: Leaders! Decentralize your access to the group information. Empower people with a shared toolkit so that they can easily access the resources they need in order to get their jobs done. Want to know more about that? Check us out here, or directly message or comment! We’d love an opportunity to answer your questions.
The Team at Groupeasy