Two Better Options than “Micromanaging”

If you want to go far in leadership, both in and out of education, it is more about the people you serve and what they do than what you do yourself.

I have always believed that the higher you go up in any organization, the more people you serve, not the other way around. 

Yet, I still hear a lot from friends and colleagues that I have worked with the frustration they feel with being micromanaged.

I have felt that pain, and there is something genuinely demoralizing about feeling that you are expected to take on specific tasks but aren’t trusted to do that same work.

Being in administrative positions over the years, I can get the feeling that you want to “control” things if you are also responsible for answering to others for results.

But micromanaging is never the way.

Here are two different options:



1. Do it yourself.


If you want something done YOUR way, then you should do it.

I have done this myself. 

I remember being told as a principal that I was responsible for the newsletter for my school, and the message that was being shared.  I wasn’t responsible for making the newsletter, but I was responsible for the messaging.

So I just started doing it myself.

And it wasn’t that I didn’t have great people who could have led that initiative, but I feel a certain responsibility in what was being said, and I didn’t want to look over anyone else’s shoulder through the process.  

And the people that typically did it now had more time to do other things that benefitted the school and was more in line with their gifts and talents.

This is no-knock on the gifts or abilities of anyone else. I just felt that I didn’t want to put people in the position where they didn’t feel trusted in doing their part for the school community.

This was more of a “me” issue than anything.

But, I didn’t want to be this guy…


Best Looking Over Shoulder GIFs | Gfycat


So if you feel that are constantly looking over the shoulder of others, feel free to take on the task yourself.




2. Trust the people you serve to do a great job.


If you designate a task, or ask others to lead an initiative, it is imperative you trust not only the outcome, but the process. It might not look similar to the way you would have done it, but you are not doing it.

This doesn’t mean mentoring or guidance can’t be provided throughout the process, but that is a much different approach than micromanaging.

Years ago, we implemented a professional learning plan for my school that every staff member joined an area that they felt was something they were either a) passionate about or b) they felt was their strength. Because they were the experts and one’s most interested in the process, they were also asked to design and implement the professional learning for our school, as well as decide our targets as an organization. As the principal, I joined one of the teams as an equal part, not as the lead.

Did my staff do as well as I thought they would with this process?

Not even close.

They did WAY better than I could have ever imagined.

Not only did they create amazing professional learning experiences for each other, but their goals for the school were much higher than I would have suggested because they were creating the solutions for our school. They had ownership over the solutions to our issues, which made them way more likely to develop something better.

This is an easy thing to understand. The people that were leading the process were the experts so they are going to do way better than I could do on my own. This reminds me of the following Steve Jobs quote:




When people are put into a position of leadership and given the opportunity to create and lead the solutions, they will always do better than any one person on their own.



So these aren’t two options instead of micromanaging because micromanaging should not be an option. 

If you are uncomfortable trusting someone to take the lead, then feel free to step up and take on the initiative yourself. But if you ask someone else to lead the initiative, trust them to do so.

Leadership is sometimes being in the front, guiding on the side, or understanding when it is necessary to follow. 

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