Delegation Archives | Underwood Executive | Executive Search & Talent Management

How I let my inner “control freak”go

By | Leadership, Results

You could say I’m a control freak….ahhh I mean, was a control freak. Typical Type A personality, my way is best, do it like this, do it now, faster, better and have you finished yet? Okay don’t worry, I’ll do it myself.

Funny right? The results were not so funny. After running a business with this way of thinking, things piled up and suddenly I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. Being interrupted 100 times a day, phone calls, long hours, always correcting things, meetings, performance issues and resignations.  I was at the end of my tether and knew things had to change or I was headed to burn out.

I was drowning and did not want to reach out to anyone fearing it was as a sign of weakness. It’s very easy to whinge about circumstances and not do anything to change it – but I’m a big believer in ongoing learning and improving performance so I got a business coach.

The first session I remember being asked to write down all the things that were worrying me, causing stress and anything I was downright unhappy about. I got two and half pages worth and thought oh dear….I’m in big trouble here, can I turn this around?

Looking in the mirror at my situation and largely my leadership (gulp!) I realised that perhaps I wasn’t all that much fun and probably 25% of the time I was a pain to work for.  In fact, I’m sure some of my staff at that time might have used stronger words than that! All in all, I was pretty hard to please.

The ultimate principles that I learnt and still use today are simple:

  1. People want to perform – they come to work with the intention of doing a good job
  2. Give people the tools to do their job and then get out of the way
  3. Give feedback immediately and be specific about what they did or didn’t do and the subsequent results
  4. High expectations are needed for high performance (just don’t demand it!)
  5. Communication delivery is the difference between a delighted and disappointed staff member
  6. Listen to your gut – if I feel a situation isn’t resolved, the chances are extremely high that the other person feels it isn’t either – go back, regroup and resolve it
  7. Don’t hang on to issues – make decisions
  8. Give people opportunities to take on greater responsibility and coach along the way
  9. Mistakes are essential in learning – that’s part of the journey
  10. Take time to think about situations, don’t react immediately

The change was fundamental. I learnt that controlling everything was detrimental to me, the business and the team.  The results were my team thinking for themselves, making decisions and experiencing increased job satisfaction.  Staff turnover diminished, I learnt to love my job again and work/life balance was achieved.

The best advice I have for control freaks? Empower others, let go, live a little and lose control. Go on, I dare you!