How To Coach Frustrated Control Freaks
Experience suggests that leaders are control freaks.
You know you’re a controlling leader if:
- You’re ideas are always the best.
- Teammates have stopped offering suggestions.
- People constantly ask you questions.
- You spend your days signing off and giving permission.
- Your organization is stagnating.
4 coaching questions for frustrated control freaks:
- What responsibility would you like to let go, at least partially?
- What new responsibilities might you take up, if you let go of some current ones? (Note: The person you are coaching may wish to take up a new responsibility or spend more energy on a current one.)
- How important, on a scale of 1 to 10, is letting go of this responsibility? Personally? Organizationally?
- What are you doing when you are fulfilling that responsibility? Explore behaviors.
- Describe the behaviors associated with fulfilling that responsibility, specifically.
- What’s fulfilling about those behaviors? Frustrating?
- What makes you great at employing those behaviors?
From controlling to empowering:
Think about the behaviors you employ to fulfill a responsibility that you would like to let go. (Refer to responses to question 4 above.) Forget the responsibility itself.
- How might others become ready to take up what you’re ready to let go? How quickly? How could you cut that time in half?
- What needs to be true of others in order for you to let go? How can those things become reality?
- Which behaviors could you give to someone, this week? What needs to be in place to make that happen?
- How might you equip someone to engage in the behaviors that fulfill a responsibility you would like to let go? (Explore mentoring, coaching, or training.)
What will be true of you in six months, if you don’t let go of ______? If you do ______?
What would you like to do about that, this week?
What suggestions do you have for coaching frustrated control freaks?
I’m delighted to partner with Clarity Development Consulting to offer the proven “Coaching for Engagement” program. Drop me an email if you’d like to explore having Bob Hancox and me come to your organization to develop the coaching skills of your team.
humm, I was going to pass this on to one of my department.. then I thought, “no I can do a better job if I just read it for them!”
Hmmm. Love the timing of this!
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The Dalai Lama has been in the Los Angeles area, and excerpts from the local newspaper quoted him as speaking about fears and peace, and ultimately the assumption of responsibility. He said we’re born with only two fears: The fear of falling, and the fear of loud noises. All other fears are taught to us by our parents, friends, and authority figures like teachers, religious leaders, and influential relatives.
He also claimed children learn very early the words “NO” and “Don’t”…both negative words that lead to self-image issues of “I can’t.”
And as we get older, the Dalai Lama, spoke jokingly of the Stockholm Syndrome in the workplace in many parts of the world where workers feel trapped, dread, debility, dependence…especially in what’s called a free enterprise system which is supposed to mean the “more enterprising we are, the freer we are.”
As cure, he suggested people think of trees and how simply and without grief trees let go, how they let fall the riches of a season, and how they dig deep into their roots for renewal and strength of character. Imitate the trees: Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember that nothing stays the same for long, not even pangs of winter. Sit it out, let it go, and enjoy. Look around, and see how other trees are doing or growing. If they are growing, you are growing too. Be like the tree that enjoys the winds, the sun, and the times of great peace and thus great gain.
And remember this: We make more trouble for ourselves than any other person we know.
Thanks Books. I was reading calmly along until I came to your last sentence. Now that was a kick in the pants. 🙂 .. well said.
I just finished a book called Leapfrogging by Soren Kaplan that addresses this very issue of control and how it leaves little room for creative breakthroughs and surprises. I love this quote from the book because it gets at the heart of why some leaders control: “Many of us conjure up scenarios about things that might happen or become fearful that we’ll be surprised by something we can’t anticipate. At a deeper level, it’s all about control. If we believe we control something, we usually don’t experience fear, since that thing is predictable and its future outcome is clear. When we feel out of control, even just a little bit, that’s when the fear of failure is infused in our mindsets and decisions.” To me, coaching begins with self-identifying the the tendency to control by using questions like those mentioned in the article and then deeper reflection to identify the source of the fear that is driving the need to control.
But, but, what if my ideas actually are the best??? Lol. Seriously, introspection time for me. Thank you once again sir.
I keep thinking of staffing…
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So, this was a little eye opening, and I always thought that I was so easy going…
Thanks Dan – great questions – I will add these to my reference for sure.
Yes, have consulted with (I do much more than coaching, national content expert, consultant, strategist, trainer, speaker, author, Fortune 10, 50, 100 consultant.) numerous brilliant control freaks who in fact did have the best ideas…greater challenge than those who merely think they do.
Easy to shift them…particularly enjoyable using the positive appreciative strengths-based system I built over 30 yrs. ago for this when many more leaders were old school authoritarian controlling. I modify this of course for style, Myers-Briggs types, industry, functional specialty, self-esteem level, education level, quantity and quality of energy, corporate culture and behavior norms and sometimes their spiritual beliefs.
Great to see strengths-focus growing, very lonely when I started, I was not popular with colleagues, but seeing clients transformed quickly, I just stuck with the clients, so my systems are very practical and bottom-line friendly while strengthening all involved and having more fun!
Thanks to all of you for the positive strengths-based coaching work you are doing!!
Dr. Linne Bourget, MA MBA, Ph.D.
Economist, Applied Behavioral Scientist, Pioneer, Positive Change Leadership Systems,
Consultant to Executives, Consultants, Coaches