Great Leaders Don’t Micromanage


(Photo Credit: The Self Employed)

One of the most deflating and unproductive environments to work in is one led by a micro-manager. How do you when you’re being led by a micro-manager? He or she always has to control everything in the organization.  His or her fingerprints has to be on everything.  The micro-manager is inflexible and does not give you latitude to employ your talents in ways that empower you to achieve maximum success. Organizational leaders must understand that being effective leaders does not mean controlling everything.  In fact, leaders who are micro-managers are often highly ineffective.

Micromanagement inevitably leads to an organization’s tragic downfall.

Great leaders trust their subordinates to use their talents to execute their assigned tasks.  Although there’s nothing wrong with monitoring what one’s subordinates are doing, as long as the monitoring doesn’t become constant and oppressive surveillance, people need to have enough freedom to make choices that enable them to work without fear.  If your subordinates feel they’re going to receive reprimands for the least thing, then you have engendered an environment where fear trumps productivity.

If you’re a leader who can do everything in your organization better than everyone else, then you don’t have much of an organization in the first place.  It’s important for organizational leaders to maintain a democratic system of governance.  A democratic system of governance allows for everyone to feel a part of the organization. Everyone needs to have his or her voice heard and valued in an organization. A great leader encourages critical thinking and discourse; a micro-manager discourages them.

If your leader is a micro-manager, then he or she is allowing his or her ego to drive the way in which he or she leads.

Great leaders don’t offer suggestions about how you could have done a task differently or “better” each time you perform it.  In fact, great leaders frequently sit back and learn from their subordinates and appreciate the value they bring to the organization.  The effective leader is more concerned about getting the right people in the appropriate positions, and then he or she just lets those individuals thrive using their gifts.

No matter how “great” you contend that your leader is, he or she is not a truly great leader if the person is a micro-manager.  An authentically great leader makes everyone around him or her better—not make everyone around him or her miserable and/or timid.

Keep these aforementioned thoughts in mind the next time you begin to contemplate who is a great leader.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison


  1. This, a million times over. I’ve work in a shop where this was evident to everyone that had been there for a while. The hands-off, managers that hire entrepreneurial, well-qualified, proactive people, keep on rising while the micro-managers stay where they are… micro-managing.

    The sad thing is that it is almost impossible to change the mindset of a control freak, and even when they know it hurts them, they just can’t help it. This is why I contend that some people are leadership material and some aren’t. A micro-manager is not a leader, he/she is a manager and managers don’t rise past a certain level.

    1. I agree very much with you. I’m always in conflict with micro-managers. I never hesitate to confront them about how their micromanagement is harmful and unproductive. A micro-manager is not a leader, indeed.

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