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Four easy steps in becoming a controlling leader!

A controlling leader is one of the most destructive forms of leadership there is. It is a momentum and morale killer and leaves many “dead” bodies in its wake.


I have worked with more than my share of them. One thing I’ve discovered is that many of them don’t see it. It’s a blind spot for them.


They see themselves as: 

  • A leader who has high standards
  • A leader who wants things done in a certain way
  • A leader who wants nothing less than excellence in all endeavors and in every decision
  • A leader with no desire to see any failures (Failure disgusts God. He wants us to be successful)
  • A leader who is establishing good accountability

Followers in the organization (or on the leader’s core team) may see things quite differently. They may see this leader as:

  • Abusive
  • Demanding
  • Dictatorial
  • Mean-spirited
  • Unkind
  • Ungrateful
  • Unbiblical  
  • Ungodly

With a controlling leader at the helm, leadership development is an endangered species. Pride is rampant. Ideas are squashed. Momentum is curtailed. Creative people move on.

So how does a leader start out well and, over time, become a controlling leader--like King Saul in the Old Testament?

Here are 4 suggestions to hone your skills in being an excellent controlling leader:

1. Only Have Faith In Your Ideas And Proposals - 

Let’s face it…you are the smartest, most discerning and best idea person in the organization. No one can hold a candle to your genius. If your people come with better ideas—more effective ways of doing things--it will undermine your authority and credibility as the leader. Never hire anybody smarter or more gifted than you are and you’ll never have to worry about any competition for your job.

2. Establish A Zero-Based Tolerance Policy For Mistakes And Failures -

Not three strikes and you’re out…one strike and you’re out! People will be fearful of messing up; but that’s a good thing in helping you keep the bar set high. You’d rather have people fear you than like you.  Popularity is way overblown.

3. Make Everything About You - 

Make sure your name and picture is everywhere. Make sure that you always receive credit for every success--even if you didn’t actually do it.  Take credit when credit is due. Make sure that you maintain your grip on power, position and all decisions being made. Be upfront and on center stage as much as possible--at all meetings, on the website and in the media.

4. Ensure That People Stand In Awe And Fear Of You.

There’s a price to pay for crossing you, disagreeing with you, disrespecting you, or challenging you. Of course, you are only doing this to keep the standard high. We all understand that.

+ Have you ever worked with a controlling leader? Are you that controlling leader?

+ Anything you’d add to my list?

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Reader Comments (1)

Let us please not forget my personal favorite...... moving the goal line or finish line!! A controlling leader is never satisfied with an excellent job. The standard for every project has to be set higher and higher. I completely understand that we all want to do well at our jobs and roles, however this goes far beyond that. A controlling leader often will set the bar so high that it feel impossible to attain a goal; so when said goal is met it can certainly feel like a bucket of cold water thrown in your face when the next day’s assignment is exponentially greater.

As a person that has struggled with codependency my whole life, as you may imagine, I have been drawn to and worked for a number of controlling leaders. Unfortunately, I have seen all of these patterns mentioned in the article. With that being said, it is often also very difficult when you are intrinsically wired to please others. I rely on articles such as these to validate me and keep me on track.
January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAngela Sanchez

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