INSIGHTS

5 Characteristics of Leaders Who Hoard Power

When employees leave their jobs in frustration, they sometimes state the reason to be the flawed leadership style of bosses whom they describe as micromanagers or control freaks. One in three managers not only "sweats the small stuff," but also "hangs tight to the big stuff." In doing so, the leaders hoard power, an effect of a perfectionist's personality, which cause the managers to fear mistakes.


As power hoarding leaders (if they are one!) become entangled in the minute details of the work of subordinates, work process inefficiency rises significantly as does the number of disgruntled workers. Leaders who believe that to be effective they must control their employees share particular characteristics, including the failure to accurately perceive employee capabilities and declaring their preferred methods are far superior to those suggested by employees.

1. A lack of tolerance for uncertainty.

Some leaders appear to enjoy uncertainty because nebulous situations make life interesting. But most leaders who hoard power are not comfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity. As a consequence, they attempt to minimize their anxiety by controlling as many elements in their environment as they can.

2. A focus on the trees, rather than the forest.

Some leaders can't see the forest for the trees. They become immersed in the details of day-to-day activities and decisions. In so doing, they lose sight of the big picture. The focus on details is a defence mechanism in that power hoarders become anxious when they recognise how few things in their environment they can control. They are compelled to spend their days "putting out fires," rather than stepping back to contemplate issues strategically.

3. A failure to trust in employee abilities.

A healthy leader provides fairly detailed instructions to those subordinates who lack experience performing particular tasks or for tasks that are critical to a company's well-being. A leader who hoards power, however, gives detailed instructions to all direct supports in regards to the majority of their tasks. He wants to micromanage duties and actions. He does so because he lacks a basic trust that his employees will do the right thing, which includes asking for direction when need be.

4. A strong conviction that he is always right.

If a manager requires that every task must be completed using his preferred method, he is not only controlling manager but lacks belief in human ability. While it's healthy for a manager to be confident in his abilities, it's highly unhealthy to require employees to consult with him on methods to use to complete any and all tasks. Dictating aspects of an employee's work regardless of the circumstance is controlling and defeating.

5. A singular focus on processes, rather than outcomes.

Controlling managers will request reports about any and everything. Don’t we all know this type? Consequently, documentation will clutter the inbox and desktop of power hoarding managers. This leader obsesses over details so he won't be blindsided by something he should have noticed but didn't. But focusing on process rather than outcome ensures that decisions are frequently late and rarely noteworthy.

Most leaders attempt to do the right thing. But for leaders who are unable to trust others, control is the goal, regardless of the fact that this focus leads to less than optimal results. When power hoarding managers become ensnared in any and all details of their subordinates' work, employee inefficiency becomes a significant problem but more so does the issue of disgruntled people.

Leaders who believe they must control their employees share particular characteristics, including the failure to accurately perceive employee capabilities and insisting that his preferred methods are far superior to those suggested by employees.


Chetan Walia

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