Everyone Loves An Optimist (But Not A Micromanager)

Posted 23 February By Hanju LeeLeadershipNo Comments

Everyone Loves An Optimist (But Not A Micromanager)

To truly understand this subject line, you have to take 12 minutes and watch one of the best leadership videos in the history of TED.

In the meantime, I’ll offer you a summary on behalf of all the optimists here at BOS Media: we believe things can be better when leaders step up and stop micromanaging.

Last week, we talked about the difference between a leader and a manager. In his TED talk, Chieh Huang gives a funny but sadly all too true definition of micromanagement:

“What is micromanagement? Taking great, wonderful and imaginative people, bringing them into an organization, and crushing their souls.”

“Crushing their souls” might sound dramatic, but he actually had the data to back it up. A study that followed 100 hospital workers over a 12-hour day found that their level of fatigue was not correlated with the amount of activity during their shift; the ones who felt the most fatigued were the ones who didn’t have control over their jobs.

Micromanagement wears people out.

But as we talked about last week, there is a risk that leaders must be willing to take if they’re going to graduate from being micromanagers. There is a chance that, on their own, people below you might fail more.

But ask yourself: is failure really the worst thing? It doesn’t mean we have to “celebrate failure,” but what if it’s a necessary milestone on the mission toward success? Most of the wisdom we gain over the years comes by learning from our mistakes – is it really so bad to let people have those experiences?

Chieh ultimately came to a realization in his conversion from being a micromanager – while the downside is people might fail more often, the upside is smart, imaginative people who don’t have their souls crushed might come up with new ideas that you would have never thought of. They might not do the job exactly the way you would have… they might do it better.

In the end, the only solution to micromanagement is: to trust. 

Here’s to not crushing people’s souls!

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