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Are you a good leader—or just a busy one? We're all micromanagers now.


2 min read

The original EMyth call to action was simple and powerful: to grow your business you have to free yourself from the technical work so you have room to lead. If you’re an architect trying to grow your firm, you won’t get there spending all day at the drafting table. But that kind of obvious technical work is just the beginning of the story.

There's a whole other kind of technical work you're doing beyond your core 'craft' - whether you're a financial advisor, software engineer or marketing guru. Let's call it the work of the entrepreneurial technician in you.

It's the highwire act of being everywhere in your business at all times. It's the work you ended up doing today, even though you had other plans, and ironically, even though you didn't spend any time at 'the drafting table.'

Technology has given you the ability to see into your business to a level of detail never before possible, from instant customer feedback through social media, to website analytics, to real-time sales dashboards, and more. And, as wonderful as that is in one way, access to that data gives you a dangerous new ability to influence the business in real time, which can severely undermine your people and you as the business leader.

We're all micromanagers now, or at least microinfluencers, and with that power comes great responsibility. It's true for everyone, but especially if you have a C in your title, that you have to be that much more disciplined to stay out of other people's way, or you'll risk undermining all that great work you've done on values and vision, because you won't embody it in the day to day.

It's worth noting how many filters you used to have between you and the outside world that 'kept you' from having that kind of influence. Twenty, or even ten years ago, you had managers with a much clearer mandate to vet prospects and vendors to see whether they were worthy of your time. You may even have had an assistant to screen your calls and make your appointments and travel arrangements. And, of course, you didn't have an email inbox or a Twitter handle.

The solution to getting out of the overwhelm is self-management and organization, and nothing will change until you do. The good news is it doesn't take much before you start seeing results. You'll find yourself having the choice to work on that plum account, the room to do some blue-sky thinking about a new product, or the confidence to finally take that unplugged vacation, without seeing your 'unread email' count going up in the back of your mind.

The solution to getting out of the overwhelm is self-management and organization, and nothing will change until you do.

Making room for real leadership work isn't easy. It's much more comfortable to check your email again, or elbow-in on a customer service issue where you know you can add a little value. But your job isn't to add a little value here and there, it's to add a lot - to inspire, to have vision and to be a sounding board for other people's ideas.

The only micromanaging you should be doing is of yourself. It's macro critical.

Jonathan Raymond

Written by Jonathan Raymond

Jonathan was a frequent contributor to the EMyth blog from 2011-2015. His articles focus on marketing, branding, and organizational culture.