How to Be A Great Leader In A World Of Control Freaks

Chances are, somewhere in your professional or personal life you’ve encountered an all-out control freak. They’re the ones who think they know best about everything, who refuse to delegate anything, who incessantly judge other people’s choices, and who want to micromanage every detail of everything they’re part of. Forced to go with someone else’s plan, they may quickly become moody or sulky.

There’s certainly no shortage of control freaks in most organizations. You may not be able to escape them, but as a leader it’s part of your job to mitigate their behavior and show them more effective alternatives. Here are some ways to protect your team from control freaks and turn controlling team members toward a leadership mindset:

Embrace opportunities to give useful feedback. Take advantage of opportunities to call controlling behavior as you see it. Candid feedback, given with humility and compassion, can be a powerful weapon to encourage control freaks to let go and find a helpful role within their team.

Set and maintain boundaries. Great leaders know the difference between what you create and what you allow, and healthy boundaries help you differentiate between the two. It’s part of your role as leader to set limits on your team’s culture, so keep control freaks from taking over by emphasizing interdependence and shared decision making. People in organizations are constantly looking to see how leaders react to trends and situations, so stay on top of control issues.

Remain authentic. Many leaders believe they have to constantly portray themselves as confident and optimistic. While it’s important to set a positive tone, I’m not a big believer in the “fake it till you make it” approach. Be your authentic self, even when you’re not feeling confident or optimistic. Being honest about the times when you don’t feel completely in control sets a good example by letting everyone know it’s OK not to be on top of everything every minute.

Communicate clearly and compassionately. Whether you’re dealing with the more controlling members of your team or the people they’re trying to control, remember to communicate clearly and concisely—and always with compassion. The best leaders understand that if their message is going to be heard, it has to be expressed with empathy and concern.

Lead by example. The biggest issue with control freaks is thinking they know it all. In a position of leadership, you can demonstrate that no one has all the answers, that delegation benefits everyone, and that the best decisions are made by including diverse perspectives. Show that you’re not driven by trying to control opinions, people or any decisions. Ultimately, leadership by example is the best way to move control freaks toward a leadership mindset.

Lead from within: Although the cost of having control freaks in your organization may be invisible, the price everyone pays is real. It’s part of your job to rein them in and show them a better way.


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The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. simon

    01. Jun, 2020

    I’m Really Impressed With Your Article, Such Great & Usefull

    Reply to this comment

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