“Look, I just want to do my job and want everyone on the team to do what they’re supposed to do. What’s wrong with that?” Robin asked defensively.
“What happens when they don’t do what you want them to do?” I probed.
“Well, I’m frustrated … so frustrated that I either react or just do it myself. That way I know it will be done and done right.”
“Who gets the credit when you do the work?”
“On a scale of 1 to 6, how do you think your team would rate you as a micro-manager?”
Robin didn’t answer the question, “So, what you’re saying is I’m a control freak.”
And with that, the discussion shifted to explore the unproductive behavior: control.
Imagine a situation with a successful team leader who always seems to know the right way to do things. His low performance is an issue or your expectations aren’t met. The project or task is important. Pressure’s high. Throw in a little anxiety – fear of failure…
It’s the perfect storm to demonstrate out-of-control behavior. Anger. Raised voice. Personal attack. Cursing. Micro-management. Telling. Low trust. Self-control flies out the window.
Self-control is that ability to control emotions, behavior, and desires while facing external demands; to show up effectively. When we try to control something out of our control most of us lose control … that would be self-control. Bring “out-of-control” behavior to the moment and you can expect an increase in stress and unnecessary conflict.
Leadership, it’s not about control
In his book, Boundaries for Leaders, Henry Cloud tells about an ah-ha moment for one of his clients. While discussing people issues in his company, Cloud asked the CEO why he thought the problems were there. The CEO gave various reasons…
“And why is that?” Henry asked.
“What do you mean? I think the reasons I just said.”
“I know the reasons you said, but why do those reasons exist?”
“I don’t get it,” the CEO responded “What do you mean?”
“Who is the leader? Who is in charge of the culture? Who is in charge of the ways that it is working, the fact that all of that exists?” Cloud pushed.
“I am,” he answered. Then came the epiphany, “You know, when you think about it … I am ridiculously in charge.”
That’s it. You are ridiculously in charge. Face it, you can’t control others, even with old school tactics. Henry Cloud nails it: “In the end, as a leader, you are always going to get a combination of two things: what you create and what you allow.”
There you have it: while you are not in control you are in charge of what you create and what you allow. What a radically different way to think. You cannot get what you want by trying to control someone or something that is out of your control.
Think about it … who on your team wants to be controlled? Whether this misguided approach comes from a peer, supervisor, manager, director, vice president, CEO, spouse or parent – no matter what the age, gender, race, or social standing – people reject attempts to control.
However, if I’m your employee I invite you to lead, guide, direct, or influence me. Especially when I believe you see me as a person, you believe in me, and you care about my success and me.
Let it go
“How do I change this?” Robin asked. She really wanted to grow as a leader and needed to reduce the conflict and stress on her team. It was affecting their performance.
“There are two things that come to mind,” I responded. “First, let’s explore what drives the need to control. Once you know why, it will be easier to move forward. Then, we’ll start building trust … what do you think will happen when you show vulnerability by owning your drive to control? Trust will grow and your group can become a self-managed team.”
“But what’s going to happen if I don’t step in…” hearing her words, she grinned and finished, “if I don’t let go.”
“Yes that’s the question,” I responded, “what’s going to happen to team productivity if something doesn’t change?”
You’re in charge
Why get rid of this drive to control?
The simple answer is to expand your leadership – your ability to lead, guide, direct, or influence people. The hard task is to eliminate the unproductive behavior that limits both your effectiveness and team results.
How will your life change when you opt for being in charge and stop trying to control what is really out of your control?
Here’s to your next level,
PS: The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™ is a result of the partnership between Wiley Workplace Learning Solutions and best-selling author Patrick Lencioni. The assessment is based on his best-selling book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and powered by Everything DiSC Workplace. Next Level Executive Coaching, LLC is an independent Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team Authorized Partner.
Click to review a Five Behaviors Sample Report.
Photo credit: Mr. TinDC on flickr