Micro Managing: Nightmare or Visionary Act?
In business, the ideal executive is considered to be a great delegator, able to motivate and lead their team to success without delving into the dreaded realm of micro-management. But is micro-management as terrible a business practice as everyone seems to think? No, says Larry Popelka of Bloomberg’s Businessweek. In fact, it is carefully selective micro-management that can make a good company a great one. (Be sure to read this entire article to understand what’s required to make this work.)
Most companies have great ideas, though not all can successfully execute them. Great innovations are often delayed and watered down by cross-functional teams, each with their own agendas and deadlines. A leader who is a micro-manager has the ability to cut through roadblocks and guide busy team members to take on audacious challenges that produce amazing results.
Take, for example, the recent snafu of Apple Maps. This may have never happened under Steve Jobs, a notorious micro-manager and an incredible marketer, as he was so famous for pushing his employees past the bounds of what most considered reasonable—and getting great results from it.
Walt Disney, too, was a well-known micro-manager. His obsession over each detail of every ride design garnered much criticism in his day, but resulted in an amazing experience for Disney park visitors.
Microsoft's Bill Gates, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, and Oracle's Larry Ellison, are a few well-known tech micromanagers who took their companies to the leading edge of their industries. Then there's Wal-Mart's Sam Walton, Bill Marriott of Marriott International, and William Rosenberg of Dunkin' Donuts, all of whom spent a lot of time visiting their own stores to ensure top-quality products and experience.
What do all these leaders have in common? A good micro-manager has the ability to ensure their team stays focused on the customer and delivers an experience that delights, without flaws. A clear vision for success and how to achieve it, confidence, and risk tolerance are all key to being a great, results-driven micro-manager. However, if you micro-manage too much or create unwieldy approval processes, you create unproductive bottlenecks. Successful micro-managers insert themselves into mission-critical, customer-facing aspects of the business.
Companies without micro-managers are at risk of product and operational crises--hindering a leader’s ability to proactively identify potential problems. And this, too, means that micro-managers risk their own skin every day (a delegator can always blame others when their initiative fails). If a micro-manager's initiative tanks, they have only themselves to blame.
Share your successes, or horror stories, of micro-management in the comments.