5 Ways to Become More Enabling and Less Controlling

Controlling-leaders end up with compliant teams.

Most leaders have control issues.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how controlling are you? Just go with your gut. Suppose you’re an 8 on the controlling-leader-scale. If you have a team of 5’s, expect compliance from them. 



  1. Slap down. When team members step up, controlling leaders:
    • Correct quickly, rather than making space to learn. 
    • Puppet-master. Everything has to be done their way.
    • Tweak. Controlling-leaders devalue other’s ideas by adding small improvements. You steal ownership when you tweak another’s ideas.
  2. Expect compliance. Don’t expect people to step up when you hired them to take orders.
  3. Don’t trust. The only person controlling-leaders trust is themselves. 
  4. Save the day. When things go wrong, controlling-leaders ride in on big white horses. If you save the day, no one else has to.
  5. Delegate tasks – cling to authority. Perhaps the toughest part of delegating is giving the authority to complete assignments without your intervention.

Controlling-leaders are big dogs. Compliance is self-preservation. 

5 ways to become less controlling and more enabling:

  1. Declare your intentions in positive terms.  Don’t say, “I want to be less controlling.” Describe who you aspire to become, not how you want to be less of something.
  2. Make space for others.
    • Soften your tone.
    • Smile.
    • Ask questions that begin with ‘what’ or ‘how’, not ‘don’t you think’, ‘wouldn’t you’, or ‘why don’t you’.
    • Tolerate silence after asking questions. Silence adds value to the questions you ask.
  3. Build strong relationships.
  4. Go nuts when compliant dogs bark.
  5. Invite feedback on:
    • The way you interact with others.
    • How you make people feel.
    • The energy you create.

The more successful you become, the more necessary it is to build relationships and create environments where others take on new challenges.

How might leaders control less and enable more?