The Challenges Posed by Compulsive Leaders

MicromanagingIs it fair to say there are many driven, compulsive leaders in executive position in your organization? I see it all the time: because most corporate cultures place such a high value on accomplishment and productivity, it’s no surprise that leaders who, while bent on achieving success, present difficulties for the people who work for them.

While compulsive leaders can claim credit for myriad workplace advancements, their obsession with tasks and goals contributes to employee dissatisfaction and disengagement. If you report to a compulsive leader, you likely experience mixed feelings over completing great work vs. bearing the pain that comes with it.

Are You a Compulsive Leader?

Compulsive leaders are often referred to as control freaks. They’re obsessed with producing, orchestrating, winning and looking the part. Our corporate culture promotes this mindset, so we are raising these types of leaders in droves, notes management consultant Steve Tobak in “Why Control Freaks Are Natural Leaders” (CBS Moneywatch, August 25, 2011).

Compulsive leaders are appreciated from the top echelons, but not as much from the bottom ones. They are overachievers, with no interest in letting up because they must win at any cost. They expect their people to be as efficient and goal-oriented as they are. Unfortunately, it’s not a realistic expectation.

Leaders with compulsive tendencies focus on tasks, checklists and goals to produce the fastest and best results, win battles, maximize success and gain favor. Their insistence on hard work and achievement overshadows people’s needs, suggests Beatrice Chestnut, PhD, in The 9 Types of Leadership: Mastering the Art of People in the 21st Century Workplace (Post Hill Press, 2017).

They chase the common rewards of accomplishment: position, possessions, influence, respect and a reputation for being the best. Their communication style suits this approach by being brief, blunt and centered on results. As Dr. Chestnut explains, the compulsive leader is passionate about doing the best job possible, achieving the most success and looking good doing it.

So, what do you think? Does this describe the person you report to? Or, any of your own tendencies? There are many pros and cons, which I’ll write about in my next post. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. Give me a call, 704-827-4474. Or, you can reach me here and on LinkedIn.

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