Tuesday, September 4, 2012

An Epidemic of Micro-management

Routinely now, I am encountering the same problem over and over. Like a family physician during flu season, the symptoms are all the same. The prescription does not vary much from person to person or organization to organization.

In a nutshell, here is the problem. From the leader’s point of view, the organization is not moving fast enough strategically and their teams are being consumed by operational minutia. From the followers’ point of view, their boss is controlling or micro-managing every thing down to the last detail. Anger and frustration are rampant. Trust is on the decline and cynicism is on the rise. Every one believes that the other person needs to be fixed.

As a consultant and executive coach, I am reminded of something that Michel Godet shared in the May-June 2012 issue of The Futurist magazine when he wrote, “... everything that pleases us is correct and what bothers us is wrong.” So many people in management positions right now aspire to this leadership philosophy. They approach their organization, strategic change and their staff from a correct vs. wrong, black vs. white perspective. All that pleases us as leaders is good and all that disrupts us or bugs us is wrong.

This line of thinking or philosophical approach to people and organizational change is dangerous from my perspective. It reminds me of an old saying: “for the hammer every problem resembles a nail.” Yet, we must recognize that the same tool does not work for all problems. The same goes with a black and white perspective on people and change. All of us are way more complex and dynamic to flourish in such a simplistic world view.

The first solution on the leadership side is to teach people new and better ways to lead. Micro-management has killed creativity and excellence in so many situations. On the other hand, lack of strategic perspective also has yielded poor decisions on a regular basis.

So when encountering this kind of situation as a consultant and executive coach, I take out my proverbial prescription pad and write the following: “engage in more and regular strategic dialogues until a larger perspective is shared by all.”  When we explore a broader strategic perspective, i.e. the environment around the organization and the environment within the organization, we yield fresh insights and new understanding. When we routinely see wide, far, deep, different and together, we strengthen the capacity for all to make better decisions.

This week step back from micro-management and put down the hammer. Share more and listen better. The future starts today.

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257

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