How to Transform from a Micromanager to a Servant Leader—and Why You Should

Published: March 23, 2021

Maybe you work for a micro-manager, someone who wants to make sure his or her fingerprints are on every aspect of everything you do.

Or (perish the thought) maybe you are a micromanager yourself. You might not realize it, but your push to be involved in everything is likely driving a wedge between you and your team. It’s certainly not helping them grow as employees and might be making them have one eye on the competition.

So, how can you transform yourself from a micromanager to what Doug Meyer-Cuno, author of “The Recipe for Empowered Leadership: 25 Ingredients For Creating Value & Empowering Others,” calls a servant leader?

“Trust is a key issue today as more companies consider part-time or full-time remote work in the wake of COVID-19,” says Meyer-Cuno. “Servant leadership is becoming more important in getting the most out of employees while keeping them comfortable and engaged.

Related: Keys to Solve Leadership Challenges During Unpredictable Times

“Most leaders believe they should have all the answers and not demonstrate weakness. But a servant leader shows great strength and awareness by putting employees first and focusing on the growth and well-being of their people,” he says.

Meyer-Cuno had his “eureka moment” as a company leader when he asked his employees if he was micromanaging them. He learned how to become a servant leader and sees how everyone can benefit.

“In building a company from the ground up, I had become so entrenched in the day-to-day tasks of each role in the company – having done every job myself – that I lost sight of what my newest role required most: real leadership in the form of servant leadership,” he says.

Meyer-Cuno offers these tips for a company leader to change from a micromanager into a servant leader:

Follow the 3 “I’s”—invest, inspire, ignite.

To build a stronger team that has confidence and a high degree of autonomy and productivity, Meyer-Cuno says leaders should invest in education and training.

“Inspire with your vision and emphasize their role in it,” he says. “You ultimately let go and empower them to execute their jobs within the framework of the core culture values. Your best employees will perform at a higher level because they crave that earned freedom.”

Create core culture values.

“I don’t advocate using honesty and integrity as core values because they are table stakes,” Meyer-Cuno says. “No one says we want to lie, cheat or be dishonest to our customers and employees. Better core culture values are ‘the customer comes first’ and ‘continuous improvement.’”

Meyer-Cuno says one way to create or strengthen core culture values is to have a team of highly-regarded employees brainstorm about the company’s best attributes.

“Celebrate the core values each month by asking employees for examples of peers who have demonstrated a core value,” he says.

Servant Leader

Create alignment.

The reason why a company does what it does stands as its purpose or mission. When a company is fully aligned with that purpose, empowerment flows.

“The really talented people out there want great leaders who are capable of empowering them,” says Meyer-Cuno. “You can’t empower people unless you are all aligned. You create amazing strength and collective focus.”

Delegate more responsibilities.

High performers expect to receive bigger opportunities due to their commitment and consistent production. If they must wait too long for those opportunities, Meyer-Cuno says, their resentment may grow.

“But sometimes the leader is reluctant to cede control,” he says. “Servant leaders learn it’s a fool’s errand, and that it hinders the growth of its most talented people, to keep feeling they have to do everything themselves.”

Live in gratitude.

“When you develop a life of living in gratitude, it’s infectious to others, often inspiring them to do more of the same,” says Meyer-Cuno. “Unfortunately, many leaders are negative because they are leading ungrateful lives, and they can’t truly motivate people through cynicism, anger, or intimidation.

“Effective leaders live in gratitude. Coming from a place of respect, appreciation and generosity, they’re more authentic, and others, in turn, trust and respect them.”

So, if you find you’re a micromanager and you need to try on a new leadership tactic, perhaps servant leadership would better suit you and help your team grow and thrive under your tutelage.

“Empower your team through your passion and enthusiasm in them as employees and people,” says Meyer-Cuno says. “Allow them to make the company better and to represent it in the best light.”

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