A Honeymoon Tale
Before I share the main subject of this blog post, I want to tell you all a story about my honeymoon. My husband and I went out to a lovely restaurant one evening, and I will forever remember that experience because of the service we received. The waiters were attentive and kind and totally non-intrusive. They would ensure our every need was met and then go off and wait patiently until it was evident they were needed again. I loved their service because there was no micromanaging.
Have you ever been out to eat and had the opposite experience? Servers constantly badgering at you and hanging around the table, interrupting your experience, and even occasionally being nosy? I don’t particularly appreciate feeling hounded when I get the occasional chance to go out and relax. It truly detracts from the independent feeling of getting away from it all, ‘it’ being life itself.
Now to my point. My excellent honeymoon service is quite similar to the role that an empowering leader plays. On the contrary, experiencing bad service at a restaurant is very similar to a manager who micromanages.
Empowerment vs Micromanagement
Micromanagement is when a manager is totally hands-on. Reluctant to let go, the micromanager has to control every step of every process they oversee. No matter how small or mindless the enterprise or activity may seem. Additionally, these types of managers may be bogged down by the fear of failure, insecurity about the future, or the abilities of their team. Perhaps these feelings are founded on personal experience. Undoubtedly, that would be valid. But it does not detract from the direct negative impact that micromanaging has on any organization.
It is crippling to micromanage people. It crushes their free and independent spirit. Being micromanaged by servers essentially ‘kills the vibe.’ Furthermore, it can reorient a wonderful trajectory the occasion is set on towards an uncomfortable and less than desirable end. The ability to act freely and with independence is precisely how an entrepreneurial spirit is born. That spirit leads to innovation and creative problem-solving, which improve the organization and help the business succeed.
On the contrary, empowerment means promoting the self-actualization of another’s full potential. The act of empowerment directly correlates to a fertile work environment. Organizations with empowering leaders experience growth within every level of their organization. Above all, Empowering Leaders must trust their team members, allowing them to take risks and fail without fear of retribution. These kinds of leaders are secure in their leadership abilities.
I recently was speaking with a client about this dichotomy in her own career. She talked about the person she now reports to. Unfortunately, she is now the direct report of a micromanager. This client is currently unhappy due to her manager’s leadership style that inhibits her from performing the way she knows she can. She is comfortable and confident with who she is, how she leads, and her role in her teams’ lives. Yet now, she finds herself under the scrutiny of a boss who wants to coach her in every decision. My client, usually a confident and capable leader, is now suffering from insecurities and anxiety surrounding her work performance. Consequently, she is afraid to act outside the direct view of her manager.
As a result, my client now feels stuck behind the limitations posed on her from above and on all sides. She is unable to make a move that reflects her individuality and own entrepreneurial spirit. She also feels that she is not progressing in her growth and knowledge as her ability to be a free-moving and independent thinker has been nearly snuffed out.
Here at Employee Fanatix, we work diligently to eradicate fear from workplaces worldwide. Therefore, how do we avoid tendencies of micromanagement and minimize fear in our people?
A Lesson in Empowerment
The first step for leaders seeking to move completely into the lane of an empowering leadership style is to understand the difference between micromanagement and empowerment fully. The second step is to better understand those you are working with and your shared goals. The third and final step is to prepare yourself to encourage employees in risk-taking, and yes, even failure.
Here is a list of behaviors required of empowering leaders:
- Release control
- Be self-aware of how you are feeling
- Trust those you hire
- Trust your recruitment capabilities
- Believe that everyone has gifts that can help team performance
For a more detailed lesson in empowerment, I advise that you visit the Caring Leadership Academy where there is an entire course on this subject. Additionally, I also have a supplementary blog post that goes hand-in-hand with this one; read that article here.