Have you been accused of micromanaging?

It’s a common situation. One I run into a lot.

An expert technologist, a renowned scientist, or a guru marketer decides to leave their high-paying consulting job to start their own business and build a company of a few dozen people.

Then, things start to breakdown: they become overwhelmed with managing delivery. They are constantly putting out fires and saving projects.  They get frustrated with the business and begin to burn out.

These desperate CEOs try to hire managers and people to take over various parts of the business, but nobody seems good enough or cares deeply enough about quality or deadlines. So they step back in to fix it.

This works for a time, but they are right back into the situation they wanted to get out of.

Eventually, they come to their coupe de grace: someone tells them that they are no fun to work for...because they are a micromanager.

What!?!? A micromanager? “I’m just trying to make sure we delivery properly and keep the customer happy,” they say.

At this point, they tend to get even more defensive, “Well, I wouldn’t have to be a micromanager if we had people who knew how to deliver.”

Often times, this is when I get the call. Frustrated with the lack of growth and drama, they call me in to fix the people on the team or replace the current people with “better” ones.

During these meetings is when I usually have to tell the CEO the bad news.

I explain that we can hire all new staff and coach them for hours a week, but it won’t solve the root problem. I tell him or her that we can only begin to make progress when he changes his  approach to being the leader of the business. The results appear when he stops acting like a micromanager and starts acting like a CEO.

It’s not an easy conversation to have, but it’s critical that these CEOs make the transition. If they don’t, their businesses will never scale and they will remain stuck.

So how do you stop being a micromanager?

The big switch is shifting your focus from managing delivery to building a team who can manage delivery. The difference is subtle, but it changes a lot of things.

In that process, you need to stop focusing on how things get done, and get good at clarifying outcomes, standards, and measures of success.

I like to use a football analogy: show them the end zone and the sidelines; explain the rules of the game, and tell them they have four downs before you take back the ball. Let them decide if they are going to run or pass or try a quarterback sneak.

Then, you coach. Review their performance, give them feedback, and put them back in the game. Resist the urge to jump in and grab the ball.

Recently, I wrote an article for Inc.com on this. It’s been one of my most viewed articles to date. Here is the link.


Curious to know if you’re ready to grow your leadership team?

I have an assessment that might help you answer this question. Download it and have your team answer the questions and then we can jump on the phone for 30 mins to review the results.


Once you have the results, send them to me at bruce@eckfeldt.com and then click here to book a time in my calendar.

Bruce “Macromanager” Eckfeldt

P.S. As Lou Holtz once famously said, “In this world, you're either growing or you're dying so get in motion and grow.” Whenever you’re ready... here are three ways I can help you grow your business faster, and with less drama:

1. Take the Growth Readiness Assessment

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