By Linda Fisher Thornton
Why is controlling leadership so harmful in organizations? There are a number of powerful reasons that have ethical implications:
1. Controlling leadership generates stress and fear
2. Controlling leadership reduces productivity, innovation and engagement
3. Controlling leadership takes the meaning and fun out of doing a job
4. Controlling leadership does not consider or respect employees’ knowledge and abilities
5. Controlling leadership creates a toxic work environment and a low-trust culture
People who are fearful and stressed cannot do their best work. Controlling leadership violates many of the principles of ethical leadership. What is the control trap? When a leader tries to control the actions of employees to make sure that they “do it right,” that controlling behavior takes away their natural ability to do good work.
Here are some ways that we can bring out the best in our people and honor what they know how to do:
- Extend Trust – We need to let people know that we trust them to do good work
- Remove Barriers – We need to remove barriers to effective work (even if we are part of the problem!)
- Support Interests – Ask people what they most want to learn and consider that when assigning projects
“A leader is not an administrator who loves to run others, but someone who carries water for his people so that they can get on with their jobs.” — Robert Townsend
Good performance is not something that you can control – but you can release it by the way that you choose to lead.
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