A Daily Dispatch from the Front Lines of Leadership.


Are You a Control Freak?

Being motivated by owning the results, having the autonomy to achieve them in your own way, and holding yourself and others accountable to the actions required does not make a leader a “control freak.” Quite the contrary. Those who create extraordinary results often focus on controlling the details that contribute to success and desired outcomes.

Doing so elevates the performance of everyone on the team and keeps the ingredients necessary for success in sight and under scrutiny. The need for control is a necessary quality common to achievers and leaders in every discipline, sport, and enterprise.

However, sometimes a leader attempts to control the very things that a team member should rightly control because they have greater skill, knowledge, or ability. This is when dysfunction begins to emerge.

Good leaders don’t control things they shouldn’t — things that others are rightly responsible for. Instead, they ask questions, provide input, and become a resource for those who own what they know how to do.

If you have a need to control just about everything, you are indeed a Control Freak. If so, people around you would probably like to hurt you on occasion, maybe even dream of doing so. That’s because Control Freaks strip away the motivation others have to contribute and achieve.

By exerting control over virtually all tasks and details, Control Freaks turn an active team into passive spectators who merely comply with a leader’s heavy-handed demands. Team members quickly lose interest, engagement, and commitment.

The Control Freak is left scratching their head, wondering why they are the only one who cares enough to strive for excellence. They have, of course, created that reality by their controlling actions, even when they may not have intended to.

Leaders who control the details create tremendous value for themselves and the team. Leaders who control everything and everybody undermine the will for others to contribute and feel good in the process of achieving results. What type of controlling leader are you?

Stop apologizing for wanting to control the details important to creating desired outcomes. Don’t let others label you a “control freak” or “highly controlling” unless you deserve it. Stick with your controlling nature. It’s what makes you and others around you good. But, don’t control what you don’t have to. Controlling everything might seem like a recipe for success, but all it really does is rob others of accountability and their need to own the outcomes, as well. 

“Control Freak” is a badge of disempowerment. Don’t be a freak.

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