Five questions for a micromanager

| 10 September 2021

Currently, I’m working with a self-confessed micro-manager. (I’ll call her Sam).

Sam knows this behaviour has got a lot worse during the pandemic with her team WFH.

She knows this is getting in the way of good leadership and she’s also finding it exhausting – but she feels nervous about being ‘hands off’ and (in her words) ‘losing control and not knowing what’s going on’.

And that’s the problem – we tend to look at things as either/or.

Either I’m a micromanager or I’m hands off.

But as you know by now (do I say this enough?!) we can take one step at a time to change any behaviour that’s not serving us or others well.

There’s a lot to explore with something like micromanaging – and we’ll be digging deeper into this I’m sure as Sam and I work together.

But she wanted to do something practical to make a start.

So this is what we did:

I asked her these questions to get to the root of her micromanaging tendencies and help her understand herself a little more:

  • What does being in control mean to you?
  • What does letting go mean to you?
  • Imagine a scale of 1-10 with 10 being letting go completely and 1 being micromanaging – where would you say you are on this scale?
  • Where would you like to be by the end of this first month (and why)?
  • And, more importantly, where would each of your team members like you to be and why? (You can’t guess – you have to ask them – one at a time!).

She was reluctant at first to ask her team – showing vulnerability doesn’t sit easy with her.

But she chose the member of the team she knows best.

They had an honest conversation – it was so much easier than she thought and she’s got some helpful, implementable ideas.

Which has spurred her on to have the next conversation.

The journey of 1000 miles always starts with the first step.

P.S. Flexing or changing your leadership approach is not about changing who you are. It’s about changing the behaviour that’s getting in the way of your success. Get in touch –, tell me what you’d like to change, and I’ll give you some ideas to help.