10 Ways to Win with Your Control Freak

Show me a leader who isn’t a control freak and I’ll show you a wimp.

You were born a control freak.

The tantrums you threw as a toddler were responses to losing control. You lost control because you lost control. Daddy didn’t give you what you wanted. Mommy said no.

The issue is how you express your desire for control, not the desire itself.

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Warnings about controlling:

Control freaks diminish or destroy:

  1. Ownership and engagement. Everything you control, you own. Engagement requires ownership.
  2. Potential.
  3. Collaboration.
  4. Creativity.
  5. Input. Control freaks hear what they want to hear because people don’t bother telling them the truth.
  6. Feedback.
  7. Boldness. Control freaks punish risk-takers with micro-management.
  8. Speed.
  9. Relationships.
  10. Opportunity.
  11. Loyalty.
  12. Commitment.
  13. Themselves. Control freaks die young and unhappy.

The trouble with control freaks is they waste themselves on trivialities.

In praise of control freaks:

Winston Churchill said, “A fanatic is one who won’t change his mind and can’t change the subject.”

Become a fanatic about something big and beautiful.

Come hell or high water, we’re eliminating breast cancer, refusing layoffs during downturns, building positive culture, or …. 

10 ways to win with your control freak:

  1. Release “how,” grasp “what.” Make room for others to design next steps that create forward movement.
  2. Repeat, “Leadership is getting people doing what they want to do in service to a noble mission.” (Again)
  3. Hold your complaints when teams work hard and fall short. Ask, “What are we learning?” “What will you do differently next time?”
  4. Show up when things are going great. Ask, “What’s working?”
  5. Whisper, “I could be wrong,” to yourself.
  6. Be strategic. Focus more on long-term goals.
  7. Allow freedom of method.
  8. Ask two open ended questions before making judgments or decisions.
  9. Challenge or eliminate drifters.
  10. Hold yourself to higher standards than you hold others.

How might leaders channel their inner control freak?