Control Repels Great Leaders. If you want great leaders to flee your organization, control them. They’ll leave. If you want to attract great leaders, release them with a clear mission, vision, and strategy (and give them input to shape it). As long as you micromanage everything, you will only have do-ers in your organization, not leaders. Enough said.

How Your Control Freak Tendencies Stunt Your Church’s Growth

If you want to limit your church’s growth, attempt to control everything

Control Repels Great Leaders. If you want great leaders to flee your organization, control them. They’ll leave. If you want to attract great leaders, release them with a clear mission, vision, and strategy (and give them input to shape it). As long as you micromanage everything, you will only have do-ers in your organization, not leaders. Enough said.

 

So you might have a love hate relationship with control: you love controlling things, but you hate being controlled.

It’s not surprising. People who like control seem to have a natural ability to get into leadership positions. Or sometimes they create positions, start things and build their own organizations.

For years, I resisted the control freak label.

I wasn’t a control freak. I was…

Passionate.

Detail oriented (of course, only very selectively about the things for which I had the most passion).

Good at what I did (okay, you don’t say that one out loud…but control freaks, you know what happens when you delegate to other people who just can’t get the job done, right?).

Control freaks, after all, usually get things done.

Our church grew rapidly when I was in my undiagnosed control freak days. So you would think, well, the sky’s the limit, right?

Wrong.

There’s a lid that comes with your control freak tendencies. You will eventually hit a wall in which the size of your church shrinks back to the size of your personal span of care. Until you let go.

In other words, if you want to limit your church’s growth, attempt to control everything.

Apparently, Jesus didn’t model control freakishness very well for those of us who want to follow in his footsteps.

He only ministered for three years, building into some questionable characters he called disciples. He poured his life into them and then left the planet and put them in charge.

A number of years ago I finally admitted I have a problem (only after about 1,282 other people had gently hinted that I might). And I began to let go.

Don’t get me wrong, the impulses still surface from time to time. But over the years it’s gotten so much better. Fortunately for all of us, learned behaviour has a wonderful way of compensating for bad impulses that no leader should act on.

Here are 5 insights that help me remember that controlling everything means you will eventually end up leading nothing significant.

  1. Control Is Often A Substitute For A Lack Of Clear Strategy Or Alignment

Poor leaders substitute control for clarity.

Here’s why. If you don’t know with absolute clarity what your organization is, where it’s going and how it’s going to get there (in other words, if you’re fuzzy about your mission, vision and strategy), you can never truly align a team. And as a result, you will always want to control it.

You will default to control because, in the absence of clarity, you worry that leaders will take your church or organization to places you don’t believe it should go. And the truth is, they will. Because you haven’t been clear.

In so many cases, the real reason you can’t ‘trust’ people of even stellar character is not because they aren’t trustworthy, it’s because you haven’t stated the mission, vision and strategy clearly enough that it’s repeatable and reproducible for anybody other than you. In the absence of clarity, well-intentioned team members end up going rogue, not because they’re trying to be disloyal, but because you never clearly defined the destination.

Healthy people usually only run in the wrong direction when their leader never made it clear what the right direction is.

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