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TCF020: Micromanagement vs. Accountability Part 2

Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! Last week Jeff explained the dangers of micromanagement and identified several warning signs that you might be a micromanager. This week, we will be diving in to some ways that you can lead through accountability instead of micromanaging your employees and increase their creativity, productivity, and responsibility.

The differences between micromanagers and challenging leaders.

Micromanagers focus on the process. Accountability-driven leaders focus on the outcome.

  • Micromanagers care about doing things the right way more than they care about doing the right things.

  • Instead, you need to focus on the team’s desired outcomes and hold team members accountable to achieve clear, measurable results.

Micromanagers assume the worst. Accountability-driven leaders hope for the best.

  • Micromanagers don’t think anyone can do it as well as they can and that their way is not only the right way, but the only way.

  • Accountability-driven leaders believe the best in people and asks for clarity when things are a bit confusing or feel “off.”

Micromanagers require employees to check in. Accountability-driven leaders give them the tools to figure it out.

  • Micromanagers feel the need to have their hands on the wheel at all times. Before any decision can be mad, it has to come back to their desk.

  • Make sure that you not only delegate tasks to team members but also empower and trust them to figure out solutions and make good decisions.

Q: Have you ever been micromanaged in one of the three ways listed above? What qualities do you think a leader needs to have to successfully lead without micromanaging their employees? How do you feel when you consider letting your team take control of how they will accomplish their goals? Under what circumstances do you think that it is okay for a leader to jump in and “take over?”

2 Ways to be a Challenging Leader

1. Set clear expectations, and then let your team do the work.

  • Be crystal clear about what you expect.

  • How will you offer support?

  • What outcomes are you looking for?

  • How will success be measured?

  • What consequences will occur if the goals aren’t met?


  • Explain the why and the what. Once you have cast the vision, let your team decide how they will achieve the task.

  • Always be clear about what will happen if the expectations are not met. There should always be a consequence to missed expectations so that your team does not become complacent or lazy.

  • Be firm and consistent when you respond to unmet expectations.

  • Ask the other person what he or she heard so that you know everyone is on the same page.

  • If your team is not on the same page as you, this step will help clarify expectations.

Q: Consider the suggested questions above. What are some ways a strong leader might answer those questions? What does it look like to explain the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ without micromanaging the ‘how?’ Have you ever seen a leader give their team too much room and it resulted in laziness and slow progress? Who do you think ultimately holds the responsibility for the team’s lack of results? What should that leader have changed? What should the team have done differently?

2. Be sure that everyone knows where they stand at all times.

  • If the expectations are clear, the feedback can be direct and fact-based.

  • Make sure that you are not the only one giving feedback. Allow your team or employee to give your their feedback on the project’s progress as well.

  • Using SMART goals to increase the odds of success, remove the temptation for you to micromanage, and provide you a clear way to give concrete feedback.

Q: Have you ever used the SMART goal structure to help your team plan a project? How was it helpful? Did you feel that using that structure helped you trust your team more or less? Describe a time when setting a clear expectation allowed you get an employee back on track after a failure or setback. If you are not yet a leader, how did (or would) setting clear expectations with your boss help keep you on track? How did it affect your confidence in your ability to do your job well?

Leading by creating accountability helps other people realize their potential. When you give people the room to use their creativity, you will help your team develop confidence and increase productivity. When you lead by creating a culture of accountability, your team will start to hold each other accountable and you will see your team’s performance increase.

Application Activities

  1. If you haven’t already, go back and listen to Episode 16 where I talk about SMART goals. Take some time to look at your team members’ goals. Are there clear, measurable goals? If not, you may have a more difficult time holding them accountable to their goals without becoming a micromanager. Set aside some time to make sure that all of your team members have clear goals and measurable expectations so that you can hold yourself accountable to letting them achieve their goals their own way.

  2. How would you rate your team’s creativity on a scale of 1-10? Are you still doing things the same way you did them 10 years ago? 5 years ago? If so, evaluate whether your leadership style might be limiting creativity in the workplace. Talk to a trusted mentor or team member and get their feedback on how you can help increase creativity in your workplace. Remember that creative solutions could save your business time and money!

  3. Take some time and try to make the argument that you are a micromanager. What evidence can you find? Dig in to your individual relationships with employees. Ask yourself if you tend to micromanage one employee more than another. If so, consider whether this is because the employee needs a stronger accountability structure to grow or if it is because you have stronger feels about the projects they are working on. If you find any symptoms of micromanagement, evaluate the strategies discussed over the last two episodes and determine what changes need to be made.

Connect with Jeff

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Email: jeffhancher@thechampionforum.com

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