How to Lead Without Being a Control Freak

Have you ever worked for a control freak?  I have.

Have you ever been a control freak?  I have.

And it's taught me that there's a big difference between being a leader and being a controller.

Here's the bottom line...a leader tells people what needs to be done and lets them do it.  A control freak tells people what needs to be done.  But they don't stop there.  They then go on and tell people exactly how they are to do it.  

Leaders produce leaders.  Control freaks produce followers.

And the problem with being a control freak is you become the lid and personally limit the growth of the ministry.  

Let's talk about how you can lead without being a control freak.

1. Drop your ego.  You are good at what you do, but so are others.  Shine the spotlight on them and let them use their gifts.  There is more than one way to get things done and it doesn't always have to be your way.

I remember I was speaking at a church a few years ago.  While I was there, I watched the interactions between the children's ministry director and her staff team.  It was obvious, that it was all about her.  She barked out orders left and right.  She controlled every single aspect of the event.  And her staff was miserable.  I could see it in their face and actions.  No one likes to work with a control freak.

Control freaks are stars.  Leaders create stars.
2. Delegate.  You simply can't do everything and you shouldn't.  Begin to rely on other people.  Give them the big picture and let them run with it.  You don't have to know every detail.  You don't have to approve every single step.  You don't have to make every single decision.

Hand over a task and let the person run with it.  Just go along for the ride and enjoy it.

3. Don't think you have to hit 100% every single time.  I know...they can't do it as well as you.  But that's okay.  Sometimes 85% is good enough.  Excellence doesn't necessarily mean perfection.  Often you will hear a control freak say "I guess I'm just a perfectionist."

4. Decide your sense of worth and accomplishment will come from empowering others.  Often we like to control things because it gives us a sense of worth and accomplishment.  We become addicted to that "I'm in control" feeling and so we crave the power that comes from control.  We long for the satisfaction that comes from knowing, "I did this all by myself."

But we must remember this: Control freaks are powerful....but leaders are empowering.  And empowering leaders accomplish much more by helping others lead and succeed.  Empowering leaders get their joy and satisfaction from watching others rise. 

The only thing we need to control is our control freak tendencies.  Working with others is so much more productive than working to control others.

5. De-stress.  Being a control freak causes a lot of stress.  First for you.  When you think the world revolves around you and everything has to go your way, things get very complicated and stressful.  Why?  Because it's simply not realistic.  We are not the creator and sustainer of the universe.  That job has already been taken.  When we realize this and stop trying to control everyone and everything around us, we can live peacefully.

Secondly, it causes stress for those around you.  No one likes to be controlled.  No one wants to have to run every single decision by someone else.  No one likes their creativity stifled and their input ignored.  The truth is, if you are a control freak, you won't keep gifted people around for very long.  They will leave.

I know a Pastor who is a control freak.  He is a good man.  A solid Bible teacher.  But he can't keep a children's pastor.  It seems they come and go every year.  Why?  Because he tries to control them.  Even down to telling them what color of paper to run the take home papers on.  After a short while, they get tired of it and move on.  It's not surprising his church is currently on the search for another children's pastor...again.

Are you a control freak?  Think through these questions and make the decision to start leading rather than controlling.

How often does my ego push it's way to the front when I am leading?  

Do I make decisions based on what is best for me or what is best for the team?

Do I feel threatened when someone suggests another approach?

Are there duties and responsibilities I am holding onto that I shouldn't be doing, simply because I don't want to give them up? 

Am I okay with someone else doing it at 85%?

Where am I getting my self worth and sense of accomplishment from?  What I accomplish or what I help others accomplish?  

How much stress is in my life right now due to trying to control everything?  How can I let it go along with the stress it brings?

Would the people I work with say I am a control freak?  If so, how can I change that?