Nobody likes a micromanager, except maybe the one doing the managing. Even people who need close oversight hate it. Why? It’s annoying. It’s overbearing. We generally chalk it up to a “poor leadership style” or “ineffective management.” It’s more than that, though. Micromanagement among Christian leaders reflects poorly on our faith and the gospel. It doesn’t work, and that’s mainly because it’s not the way God designed things to work.
Here are five reasons why.
1. Micromanagement is a failure to lead.
In fact, it is not just a failure to lead; it is the opposite of leadership. Leaders, whether in business or ministry or any other context should be empowerers of others, setting them up to succeed. Micromanagement bears all the burden and actually undermines those it oversees. It takes away their opportunities to shine and never shows them a way forward. Instead of raising up new talent and new leaders it suppresses both and limits everyone’s effectiveness.
2. Micromanagement is a failure to self-evaluate.
To be fair, every shortcoming is a failure to self-evaluate. But for someone responsible for others’ success, refusing to self-evaluate is a recipe for disaster. Micromanagers don’t realize they are actually making life harder for others. They don’t see the damage they are causing. They also don’t see the damage they are causing to themselves. By taking on all the burden of work instead of empowering others to do it well, a micromanager is stockpiling stress and burden. More than that, though, they aren’t evaluating their own gifts. The question every micromanager must ask themselves is this: should I really be in a position of leadership? If the inclination is to do all the work instead of helping others do it then maybe being in a position of leadership is the wrong fit.
3. Micromanagement is a failure to recognize the gifts of others.
God has uniquely gifted every person. Leaders are tasked with seeing those gifts, feeding them, and giving people room to use them to the fullest extent. Micromanagers either cannot or will not do this. They see people as tools to be wielded or foolish sheep to be shepherded. They cannot recognize that the people under them may be better at certain tasks and responsibilities and that this is a good thing! Those serving under a micromanager cannot reach the potential God has imbued them with until they are free to use their gifts. Micromanagers stand in their way.
4. Micromanagement is a failure to trust others.
A lack of trust fits hand-in-glove with failure to recognize people’s gifts. If you cannot be confident in another person’s ability to do the job well you cannot trust them. When a person cannot trust others, though, it isn’t just about their view of people. It is about their view of God. Micromanagement reflects a lack of grace, a lack of connection to God’s immense mercy and kindness. People think of grace in terms of forgiving sins and failures. For a leader forgiveness like that is a tough balance because doing so too much means allowing flaws in your business or ministry too often. Yes, forgiveness is good, but a line must be drawn somewhere. But grace is also about giving responsibility and space to those who are flawed and might fail. When a leader can’t give any leeway to try new things or take some risks it is a lack of grace. However, when leaders show that aspect of grace, people under them feel both safe and free to pursue great things. Grace allows bigger things to be accomplished where micromanagement crushes them.
5. Micromanagement is a failure to trust God.
If a leader professes to believe that God gifted people uniquely, in His image, and believes in the grace of God and has experienced it, then why would he set that aside in leadership? Does he know better than God? Is he a better leader than God? He put that leader in a position to make others’ lives better, but by acting on his own, in his own wisdom, the micromanaging leader is harming them. He is harming himself by his lack of trust, too, by taking on burdens God didn’t intend for him to have. Leaders must remember who gave them their position, who gifted them to do it, and who gave the people around them their abilities. If God can do all that, He doesn’t need a leader to micromanage all the work too.