This blurring of the line, however can come at a price to employee retention, training and quality especially when you have micro-managers on staff.
The leader and manager are very different and the micro-manager is even further separated in their impact on the organization and the people within it. Before we get to micro-managers, though, let’s cover the basics of a leader and a manager just to get you jump started on the right track.
Quoting from, “Learning to Lead: A Workbook on Becoming a Leader”, pg. 9. Perseus Books / Addison Wesley, 1997):
- The manager administers; the leader innovates.
- The manager maintains; the leader develops.
- The manager accepts reality; the leader investigates it.
- The manager focuses on systems and structures; the leader focuses on people.
- The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.
- The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.
- The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.
- The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader has his or her eye on the horizon.
- The manager imitates; the leader originates.
- The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.
- The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.
As you can see, the leader and the manager have different approaches to the business at hand and both impact the organization in different ways. However, the micro-manager is almost always the most harmful.
The micro-manager has taken his management role to extreme limits and has put his iron fist around the way the organization moves, grows (or more likely doesn’t grow) and operates on a daily basis. This micro-manager is so committed to one way, one process, one method, one output, one way of thinking that they are no longer able to see change, maintain relevance, encourage leadership, identify opportunities or truly see weaknesses.
The micro-manager develops a narrow view of the world and begins to squeeze out talent, passion, and the desire to excel forcing people to meet a prescription of success instead of a measure of success.
The truth is that a micro-manager no longer encourages people to know “why” to do things, only “how” to do things. The micro-manager often wants obedience more than achievement and blind acceptance of regulations and protocol. Seldom does the micro-manager help an organization since these people tend to keep their team stressed over minutia and mindless adoption rather than exploring options and fostering problem solving and high-levels of ownership in the work. The micro-manager often breeds people who complain and create excuses often repeating back the policy, guideline, or protocol saying “they did it exactly as they were told too”.
If you are in an organization were the end results are criticized because of how you got there, not the actual results, or if your daily actions are so measured it has become more important to measure than to do the actual work, or if you fear leading in your workplace because you aren’t following protocol at the detriment to the company then you may very-well be trapped under the influence of a micro-manager.
If your organization has established processes and seasoned employees (not all newbies) then you don’t need a micro-manager. What you need is a balance between empowered leadership and concerned management. You need just enough slack in your line to do the work as you wish, but no so much the work falls apart. Good leadership will give you more to work on and good management will give you more slack.
Good companies will train up leaders over managers. Great companies will put micro-managers at lower levels to police critical elements without letting them rise to the top where they can choke out their staff and company by limiting all growth and potential in the people and processes.
Avoid the death of a thousand cuts by limiting the reach of the micro-manager, your bottom line will thank you for it.