3 Results of Controlling Leadership

One of my pet peeves in leadership is the controlling leader.  I recently wrote some warning signs that indicate a leader may be one.  You can read that post HERE, but I keep seeing the type.  Controlling leaders are in every type of organization, including in the church.  (I also wrote about the difference in leading people versus controlling them HERE.)

I recently saw a controlling leader firsthand while working with another organization.  It reminded me of the main reason I’m so opposed to controlling leaders is that it is counter-productive to healthy organizations…and I love healthy organizations.

In fact, here are 3 results I see in teams and organizations with a controlling leader:

Leaders leave – You can’t keep a leader when you control him or her…at least not for long.  Leaders need room to breathe, explore and take risks.  Controlling leaders stifle creativity and a real leader will soon look for a place to grow.

Followers stay…many times…But they are often miserable – There are people wired to follow a controlling leader.  If i were using counseling terms is call it co-dependency. Sometimes due to fear of venturing out on their own or because of a false sense of loyalty they stay, but the controlling leadership makes them miserable.

Organizations stall - Controlling leadership always limits the organization to the strengths, dreams and abilities of the controlling leader.

Want to test yourself? Read 7 Warning Signs you May be a Controlling Leader. (http://www.ronedmondson.com/2011/01/7-warning-signs-you-may-be-a-controlling-leader.html)

Dear leader, take it from a leader who has to discipline himself not to control, controlling leadership simply doesn’t work. Have you learned that principle?

Have you worked for a controlling leader?  What would you add to my list of the results of controlling leadership?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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17 thoughts on “3 Results of Controlling Leadership

  1. Great post.
    Yes.
    With a controlling leader, the most important objective becomes protecting the leader's reputation at all costs. The second most important objective is to quietly remove all dissenters.

  2. Yes, I have worked for a controlling leader a couple of years ago and I agree with every word you wrote. Leaders like these sometimes call themselves "visionaries" and if you don't agree with them it means that you don't have "vision". I would add that this kind of leader is usually intimidating and people don't feel free to share their thoughts, especially if they desagree with the leader. This sort of leadership has caused a lot of damage to me.

  3. Ron

    You write…
    “take it from a leader who has to discipline himself not to control,”

    Appreciate the openness – and the desire to NOT be controlling.
    But, how does anyone with the “Title” and “Position” of **Today’s** “Pastor/Reverend/Leader”
    discipline himself – NOT to control.

    Control – Dictionary
    1 – the **power** to influence or direct people's behavior or the course of events.
    2 – the **power** to restrain something.
    3 – maintain influence or authority over

    Doesn’t having the “Title” and “Position” of “Pastor/Reverend/Leader” **automatically** make you “controlling?” With the “Title” you have “Power” to – influence, direct behavior and events, to restrain, and “Exercise Authority” whether you say anything or not. Or command, or demand, anything or not?

    That’s “The Little Bit Extra” that comes with the “Title” of **Today’s** “Pastor/Reverend/Leader.”
    Power – Profit – Prestige – Honor – Glory – Reputation – Recognition.

    Some “Pastor/Reverend/Leaders” might be nicer then others. And some control might be less abusive outwardly, but, it’s still control, still abuse.

    People are always asking; What will the “Pastor” think? Am I acting in agreement with “leadership?” Am I going to be labeled rebellious if I disagree?

    In my experience with **Today’s** “Pastor/Reverend/Leader”
    and having been in “Leadership”shows me…

    No matter how loving, eventually…
    No matter how humble, eventually…
    No matter how much a servant, eventually…

    “Pastor/Leaders” will “exercise authority” and “lord it over” God’s heritage.

    That’s always the beginning of “Spiritual Abuse."

  4. For as “simple” as this list is it is also comprehensive. Most additions could be sub-categorized under these three. For example, my addition could be placed under stalled organization. Most controlling leaders experience a lack of genuine accountabilty; as well as constant hurt from those leaving or those semi-committed followers staying yet not being totally sold out.

    • Thanks Mason. You are right. I think the lack of accountability leads to a lot of this…which is why we see it in so many churches.

  5. I would like to add the following to your list of the results of controlling leadership:

    – will not to able to make the most of every opportunity
    – will not be able to reap the benefits of full potential
    – will tend to miss the bus for sure
    – collapsed team morale

    Sadly, often the insecure leaders act as controlling leaders due to their narrow mindedness and fear.

  6. Well put Ron. Another result of controlling leadership (or worse, it’s uglier big brother, Toxic Leadership), is a lack of sustainability. Controlling leaders can drive short term results easily (overtime until burnout, using next term’s budget prematurely, etc), but often fail to maintain that success over time (people leave, budgets dry up).

    A great reminder that real leaders do not control, they serve. Thanks for sharing Ron!
    Twitter: BLichtenwalner