Control Is An Illusion

I mentor and train a lot of leaders, a number note that their teams don’t take responsibility, won’t make decisions and don’t think for themselves. Often this frustration is driven from a desire to control them?

“I love to be micro-managed,” said no one ever. Whether we like it or not, control is an illusion. Even if we think all is under control, it seldom is. In a hyper-controlled environment fear is the prevailing emotion.

Fear dominates and paralyses. In fear you loose all innovation, free thought and entrepreneurial passion. If we want to have a committed team we have to relinquish an overt desire to control.

Daniel Pink, talks about three areas that drive engagement, and in my view therefore productivity. Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose. If we create the environment where these develop in our teams then we will be amazed at the outcome.

We all want to be good at what we do; grow our talents and exercise our abilities, it’s part of what makes us human, this is Mastery.

A sense of Autonomy can release creativity and innovation, as we seek ways to reach our goals and objectives with our own ideas. We all want to be part of something that is bigger than ourselves, something with Purpose. We have a whole new generation literally characterized, and often lampooned, for wanting to ‘have an impact’. I think that bears well for the future, if we can create environments where it is channeled and allowed to flourish.

The most you can ever get through even perfect control is compliance. But with autonomy, mastery and purpose comes commitment. And a committed team will beat a merely compliant team, all day, every day.


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