The 5 key points Harold makes are:

1. Know the signs
2. Connect the dots
3. Stretch yourself
4. Coach rather than manage
5. Deal with the need to control everything

Ask your question: http://www.drharoldhillman.com/ask-harold-show.html

YouTube Link: How to Give Up Control and Delegate Effectively | Episode 10

Ask Harold Episode 10 Transcript:

Today I’ll answer a question from a viewer who wants to stop being a control freak and wants to start delegating more work to her team.

Hi everybody, Harold Hillman here and thank you for joining me on episode 10 of Ask Harold. Today’s question is from Karen. Karen describes herself as a control freak – something she’s known about herself for a while, but now it’s starting to work against her at work.

Here is Karen’s question:

Hi Harold,

I’m a manager working in the head office of a retail company. I have 6 people that I manage and we sit within the larger sales function.

Lately I’ve been reading up on leadership and development articles to help me become a better manager. One thing that keeps popping up is the idea that managers should learn how to delegate more to their team and to let go of some of their control in order for others to grow and develop.

This sounds good in theory and makes sense. However, there are two things about this that I find personally difficult.

The first is that I like things to be done a certain way. I’m good at what I do and our team achieves positive results. However, these results have happened because of my direct input. It also comes down to accountability: if things are not successful, it’s me who is in the firing line for any consequences.

The second aspect is that if I give up control and others can then actually start doing things that I do, maybe I won’t be as valued, or seen as a high contributor within the organization. After all, if people are able to do my job, why do they need me?
I know I need to delegate more, loosen my control and develop others within my team, and I want to.

[Karen writes]

So how do I get over these mental barriers that I have?

Your insights are much appreciated,


So Karen, great question. It reflects some really good self-awareness on your part as a starting point, which always helps. Especially in situations where you know that your own way of leading people may not be in line with what your team really needs from you. You want the best outcome which causes you to hover closer, but you know it’s not good for the team when you are a micromanager – so it ends up being a big quandary for you.

So, Karen, here are 5 things that I’d like for you to think about in relation to your question:

1. The first thing is: know the signs. Know the signs of being a control freak. By the time you’re an adult you’ll know the pattern. You become more hands-on and tend to hover closer to other people who are supposed to be doing the work, but can’t do it because you’re all over them. It’s usually caused by a fear of failure, or being judged as imperfect – so the intensity of how other people experience you goes up when you’re under pressure.

Karen, it sounds like you know that pattern which always brings you back to the same question: are you making things harder for yourself than you really need to?

2. The second thing is: connect the dots. This goes along with self-awareness. If you know that you’ve got a tendency to get more hands-on when you’re under pressure, then watch for what happens on the other side of the interaction with yourself. Put yourself in the shoes of the person who has to experience you when your need for control is in overdrive. That’s called empathy.

If you’re really being objective, you have to concede that your leadership may cause other people at work to be disengaged – maybe even to work around you. The biggest aha moment is when you start to lose good people – something that it sounds like you’re trying to prevent, Karen.

3. The third thing is: stretch yourself. If you are uncomfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty, you won’t let your team stay there long enough to learn anything. It’s in the uncertainty where you gain a lot of resilience and confidence. Can you really ask others to get on a learning curve and be vulnerable when you haven’t done the same yourself?

Show the team, or even your family that you aren’t afraid to put yourself out there and take some risks. Remember Karen: you can’t inspire anyone if you never do anything outside of your comfort zone. A little imperfection can go a long way towards making stronger connections.

4. The fourth thing to remember is: you’ve got to coach rather than manage. The primary role of a coach is to instruct and motivate. A coach never gets on the field during play, but rather is actively supporting the players as they drive the ball toward the goal line. The players have to actually carry the ball in order to feel that sense of ownership.

Coaching is different from more hands-on managing, Karen. You definitely get better results being a coach.

5. And finally, the fifth thing: deal with needing to be in control of everything. You don’t have to go terribly deep to understand what happens to your behavior when you’re under stress.

It goes back to your relationship with vulnerability. If uncertainty threatens you, then you will probably clamp down with all kinds of controls. If uncertainty fuels you, then people are far more likely to feel a more inclusive vibe from you. The key to a better relationship with vulnerability is to face in to it, Karen. There’s a perfect ethos to describe what it means to let go of control when you are a leader.

Former Refining NZ Chief Executive Ken Rivers once said:

If I’m doing my job right, I should have the least amount of work on my plate than anyone else in the company.

That’s a real mindset shift for anyone who currently defines adding value as having more things on their plate. So for Karen and those of you who struggle to let go, make it your goal to empty your plate, or at least reduce the portion size a little. Remember: it’s all about mindset.

Thanks again for that great question, Karen, and thank you all for watching Ask Harold. On the next episode I’ll answer a question from a viewer who wants to build her credibility with her team mates. She says she can feel it starting to slip away. It’s a great question so let’s dig in next time.

Remember: if you like this video, tell others about it and subscribe to Sigmoid’s YouTube channel. And if you have a question of your own, or want to see my other videos and articles, go to my blog at www.drharoldhillman.com

Take good care and see you all soon.