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The Sweet Spot

Published October 14, 2013

How do you find the sweet spot between micro management and empowerment as a leader? The reality is no one wants to be labeled as a micromanager and everyone wants to be known as someone who empowers their team. The problem is that falling on the extreme of either side of these two styles can get you into trouble as a leader.

  • If you micromanage someone who is a top performer you will frustrate them.
  • If you micromanage a low performer you enable them to be mediocre at best.
  • If you empower someone who does not embrace the vision you’ve set for your organization, or doesn’t buy into the high standards, you lose complete control in your organization.

So how can you manage the tension between these two styles?

  1. Hire the very best people you can, even if it costs you more up front. Hiring less than the very best will cost you more on the back end then your up front investment does. Trust me on this.
  2. Make sure your team knows the standards you want to achieve. Don’t assume that everyone knows what you expect. Show them what you expect, model those behaviors, and be the leader.
  3. Establish a crystal clear vision for your organization. Without a vision and laser focus communication surrounding it you will have a group of people doing what they hope is right and hoping you approve of the results. Not exactly a high performing culture to be working in.
  4. Ask powerful questions. By asking powerful questions you give your team an opportunity to talk about what’s working for them and what’s not, as well as open a fantastic channel of dialogue about what they might do differently, or celebrate what’s working well. As a leader this is imperative because it can help you see opportunities to help them grow in a way that is very respectful, thoughtful, and non-threatening. Celebrating successes by understanding what is really working for someone gives you the ability to leverage their experiences and knowledge and gives them an opportunity to help someone else on the team who might be struggling.

The best way to find the sweet spot between micromanagement and empowerment is to create an organizational culture that provides an opportunity to become a top performer; someone who knows and is empowered to achieve the high standards for your organization, and has the ability to make the people around them better.