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Warning Signs of Toxic Leadership Part 10: Poor Delegation Skills

Graphic Shown Type of Toxic Leadership - The Control FreakHave you found your own persona or tendencies yet in this 12-part series?

We’re all here somewhere! And with only two more personas to come in the series, you may need to go back and get a fresh look at the ones we’ve already presented. Denial is common when it comes to seeing your strengths become liabilities.

In the interest of practicing what I preach, I’d like to share with you that my personal struggle is with the persona presented here, The Control Freak. At times, these behaviors have served me very well. They are a part of my success and, even, a part of me. But… and this isn’t easy to admit… my tendencies to take and hang tight to control, and occasional poor delegation skills, have caused problems for me and for people I care about, too.

That’s how it is with all 12 of these warning signs of toxic leadership. The good of them can make you oblivious to the negatives. It’s important to know about this and to be more mindful of when and how to express these tendencies.

Related posts:

Warning Signs of Toxic Leadership: Are You The Control Freak?

Your way is the right way. It’s the only way. You have a need to know what’s happening. Being out of the loop is unacceptable. You’ve been called a Micro-Manager, and you’re kinda proud of that label. Nothing gets past you, and everyone knows it.    

Whether real or perceived, you may be seen as The Control Freak who:

  • Micro-manages the work and can’t seem to let go of even the smallest tasks.

  • Doesn’t trust others to do an adequate job.

  • Expects an unreasonably high standard of work and seems unpleasable.

  • Won’t invest time and effort into developing the capacity of others.

  • Would rather do all the work yourself even though there are others who are capable.

In the past, this has served you well or manifested as a positive when:

  • You were an individual contributor and the work was yours alone to complete.

  • The people who needed to learn the work were untested and needed a lot of supervision.

  • The stakes were high and errors would have been costly.

  • There was no need or advantage to developing others.

  • You truly did need to maintain a very high standard of quality, one only you could deliver.

Maybe this persona isn’t who you really are. It’s not who you intend to be. It feels unfair to be labeled this way. Nonetheless, if people see you as The Control Freak, something caused them to see you this way. For them, this is real.

What Can I Do if I Have Poor Delegation Skills?

warning signs of toxic leadership

Make sure you don't have a blindspot when it comes to your soft skills or style. Take the free, self-paced course called The Essentials of Personal Effectiveness to build transferable skills and improve the quality of workplace interactions. 

If you’re encountering a potential blind spot, feel stalled in your career, or are struggling with interpersonal skills in the workplace, you might benefit from working with a certified executive coach. Most senior-level executives have worked with a professional coach at some point in their career. Check out this Forbes article for more about the benefits of coaching.

Ultimately, YOU are responsible and YOU are in control of your choices about how to lead and how to interact with others in the workplace. Now that you’ve got awareness, it’s time to take action.

If you are, indeed, The Control Freak, here are some immediate actions you can take to change others’ perceptions and exhibit these behaviors less frequently.

  1. Delegate to develop others. Give appropriate authority and resources when you delegate.

  2. Set a schedule of regular check ins and avoid micro-managing the work.

  3. Set expectations for outcomes and let people have autonomy in deciding how to do the work.

  4. Stop doing the work yourself. Instead, identify who can learn and grow by doing tasks.

If you’re wondering whether or not it’s worth it to make these changes, you should know that there is an impact to being perceived as The Control Freak. There’s an impact on people you work with.

There are also consequences for you, including:

  • The biggest risk you take when you allow Control Freak behaviors to go unchecked is that people will stop trying. If it is impossible to please you and there’s no autonomy in the way they do their work, then what’s the point? You don’t seem to respect their abilities or to value their style, so the work soon seems robotic.

  • By not letting go of the work more completely, you are also inhibiting others’ opportunities to develop. They can’t learn and grow if they are constantly monitored and spoon fed tasks. There’s no upside to trying new things if they will be harshly judged for not doing things precisely the way you instructed. Innovation and improvement will be limited and people potential will be, too.

  • You also run the risk of being perpetually overloaded with low value work. The more time you spend checking others work and doing things yourself, the less time you have for more strategic work.        

This choice is yours. Choosing to deny, ignore or embrace your Career Roadblock characteristics are all legitimate choices. You don’t have to change a thing.

On the other hand, if these behaviors or perceptions are preventing you from reaching your goals, it’s also a legitimate choice to modify what you’re doing.

Either way, put yourself in control. Be aware of the perception, your choices surrounding that perception,  and the impact of being perceived in this way.

How Can I Learn More About This Career Roadblock & Others?

The Control Freak is one of 12 behavior sets that can become career roadblocks. When others are observing the issues with someone who is stuck and has these blind spots, they frequently use terms to describe these roadblocks (e.g. “control freak” or “dinosaur”).

Make sure you don't have a blindspot when it comes to your soft skills or style. Take the free, self-paced course called The Essentials of Personal Effectiveness to build transferable skills and improve the quality of workplace interactions. 

You can learn about all the career roadblocks that lead to toxic leadership by following this blog series.