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The Power of Trust: How to Stop Micromanaging

The role of an Executive Director can be challenging, and it’s often difficult to find balance. Tasked with steering our organizations toward success, we often find ourselves at the crossroads of control and empowerment. Shifting from a micromanaging or top-down structure to a more liberating, discipleship approach can transform the staff's experience and also the entire organization’s culture. But how do we do this? Where do we start?

The first step is to identify where you might be holding control and holding back your capable staff members. Before we delve deeper into the “why” and “how” of releasing control, it's essential to recognize that perception can be deceiving. Many leaders – myself included – believe we empower our staff to grow, but it's often a far cry from reality. Asking your staff a specific set of questions can reveal the truth and help you to more comfortably delegate tasks and disciple those you lead. Taking this transparent approach may be uncomfortable for both parties but it’s a first right step in the direction of servant leadership.

Start with a conversation. “Joan, I am attempting to grow in my servant leadership and would like to identify where I may need to make some changes in order to disciple people better. I know this task may be somewhat uncomfortable for you – it will be for me too – but I ask that you answer the following questions as transparently as possible. I promise to humbly accept your responses and attempt to come to a resolution for the betterment of our ministry.”

Give her a list of questions similar to what is provided below. Then allow her to take a few days to respond to the questions. During that time. Take a posture of prayer, asking the Lord to open your heart to receive truth and for your staff to be gentle but true in their responses.

  • Would you describe our staff culture as permission-granting or micromanaged?

  • Do you feel you need permission for every action, or do you have the freedom to do what is necessary to accomplish your job in the way you think is best without being questioned.

  • When you have an idea, do you feel welcome to express it? Do you feel seen and heard?

  • When you need to report something, do you feel apprehensive or are you comfortable coming to me with difficult things?

Regardless of the answers you receive, it’s important to recognize that your staff members often crave trust and the freedom to apply their expertise. By enabling your employees to express their frustrations, a culture of control can be dismantled. This can pave the way for the creation of a more positive and nurturing work environment where everyone feels heard, valued, and has the freedom to exercise the gift’s God has given them.

Making a shift toward a culture that allows staff more freedom to grow can have an amazing impact. As staff members are unburdened from micromanagement and entrusted with making informed decisions within established parameters, a transformative process unfolds. Your staff’s work ethic and attitude will attest to this transformation, showing a newfound enthusiasm, self-assurance, and a sense of freedom. They not only feel appreciated and motivated, but they will also display unwavering commitment to their roles. This leads to elevated job satisfaction and a reduction in employee turnover.

Yet, there's more to this shift than meets the eye. In a micromanaging office, staff can often avoid taking full ownership, placing the responsibility of success or failure on their supervisor. Moreover, when supervisors carry the weight of every decision, the burden can be overwhelming. This affects the director’s emotional well-being, hindering the team's growth and potentially becoming a detriment to the center’s overall health. However, in a permission-granting culture, employees can take the reins and assume accountability for the outcome of projects assigned to them.

This shift in ownership leads to stronger engagement and increased efficiency. Not to mention, as you become more comfortable with relinquishing control and placing trust in your staff to handle additional responsibilities, you'll discover that delegating not only eases your own workload but also brings about a greater sense of satisfaction and fulfillment for the whole team.

I truly hope this article has inspired you to take steps toward creating a culture of trust and empowerment in your center. If you need some support or would like to talk through some pitfalls, my door is always open.

I’d also like to suggest an amazing resource for those looking to grow in their role as a servant leader. The Leadership Style of Jesus, by Michael Youssef is an easy read and changed the way I felt about my leadership role and those who were serving alongside me.


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