Trust is an essential for leadership. To be effective, you have to trust people and people have to trust you. Trust is something that takes time to build.
But some leaders take the shortcut to accomplish their goals. The Mistakes Leaders Make include substituting control for trust.
“To empower people means learning how to lead people without controlling them.”
You cannot overestimate the value of trust in leadership. But you can’t overestimate the allure of control to leadership. Control offers the illusion of attaining your goals more quickly. It is a lie, obviously, but it sure gets lots of leaders to accept the lie. Control leads you to micro-manage people.
Trust doesn’t mean that you let people slide. You hold people accountable for their actions, choices and performance. Control is not letting them make choices but continually inspecting every action.
“The more freedom you give people to do their jobs, the way they’d like to do them, the more satisfaction they’ll get from their work.”
I’ve been micro-managed in the “real” world and in ministry. Hated it. You feel devalued as a person. When you control people you are saying either I don’t trust you or you are incompetent. One root of this is pride: no one can do this like I can.
Dave Kraft lists some warning signs for leaders to notice:
- leads through control instead of collaboration;
- always has to be right and seldom or never admits to being wrong;
- uses anger as his primary means of getting results;
- does most of the talking and very little of the listening;
- always has to have all the answers and provide all the solutions;
- always gets what he wants regardless of the price others pay;
- feels threatened by those who are better at something than he is;
- has to have an opinion on every subject and issue.
This leads to discontented, unfulfilled people. I worked in one place in which the CEO was quite controlling. We would walk on eggshells. I was glad when I got “laid off”. Things were not moving in a good direction and my discontent was going to get worse.
“Unfulfilled people can be just as serious a problem as inefficient methods.”
A discontent person or two does not mean leadership is the issue. But if many or most are discontent and unfulfilled … it is probably a leadership issue. I know that in this situation it was a leadership issue. Time would show there were some serious issues.
So leaders should look around periodically. Do I trust the people I lead to do their job well? Are they merely afraid of me or do they find joy in their job? It isn’t too late to return from the “dark side”. Of course, like Darth Vader it may cost you everything to do it. But controlling leaders can begin to trust others only if they ultimately trust God first and foremost.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. Proverbs 3