I have the good fortune to have humorous friends who do not let me take myself too seriously.
Last weekend a friend and I went on a local food drive fundraising walk. Time didn’t seem to matter at all to the organizers. Registration was advertised to start at noon, it started closer to one. The walk was supposed to start at one, but we paused to have photographs taken which took additional time to wait to include everyone in the frame. My friend calmly said to me: “we’re not in charge” – reading my thoughts about punctuality and my need for them to herd people off on time to accomplish a fast walk to get out of the sun.
Instead, we joined a social group who ambled at a leisurely pace, stopping to talk to people, allowing us to engage and be entertained by the interesting people and buskers we encountered along the way. Left to me, I would have micromanaged everyone into an efficiency that would have missed the point of social encounter, engagement, respect and mindfulness.
Why does micromanaging exist? I think it may have to do with expectations. What I would have considered an accomplishment, to be punctual and efficient with this event, missed the spirit and intentions of the group. My expectations were to donate money for food and to walk. The ultimate intention of the encounter was much more enlightened.
The Buddhist monks who led the walk modeled patience and inclusiveness, and above all, the serenity of thoughtfulness for everyone who was part of or was impacted by the walk. They did not impose demanding standards that would ultimately exclude others’ needs. It was less about control and more about inclusiveness. It was a lesson on how the simple act of humbly following, rather than leading, can change perspectives and perceptions and result in deeper insights.
If you tend to take over, take a moment to think about your intentions and expectations and explore the possibility that doing the exact opposite may accomplish a better overall result with less anguish.
If you don’t think that you ever micromanage, ask your counterparts and direct reports what their experience is. I dare you to do that this week!
I have a self-assessment created for successful people that may help reveal tendencies that may lead to the practice of micromanaging. Email me and I will share it with you.