Do Exactly What I Say or You’re Fired!!!


Going to work sometimes feels like an obstacle course that only the very best can maneuver. Failure to do well on this obstacle course won’t necessarily result in termination, but could result in frustration, loss of motivation and productivity, and either absenteeism or the desire to resign. Often this is not due to the work itself, or even the overarching job or organization, but rather the leadership in charge of it all.

I once had the perfect job. I was basically autonomous, could work at my own pace, and had the ability to decide exactly what I wanted to accomplish during the day. Of course I did have specific goals to meet, but how I met those goals was up to me. That all changed when the leadership of the organization changed. It wasn’t one of those corporate takeovers, or even the organization deciding it had to change. No. Instead, it was just the filling of a vacancy with someone who was a micromanager.

Everyone knows what a micromanager is. Maybe you are one, or maybe you have one in your life. However, when a micromanager becomes the leader of an organization, a few different results are possible:

  • The organization begins to thrive because no one knew what they were doing and the new micromanager helps set the record straight
  • The organization begins to have serious problems because what the status quo used to be is no longer possible

Micromanaging can be very negative or it can be very positive depending on the situation. A study published in 2016 in the Journal of Applied Psychology indicated just that –micromanaging has the potential to be either good or bad, depending on the condition, or rather the culture, or the organization.

Picture this: an organization where the culture is such that everyone knows what is expected of them, what their jobs are, what goals they have to meet, but with a new leader who decides to stand over everyone and make sure they do things right.

Or an organization with a similar culture as the above example, with a leader who only interjects when necessary, such as when there are problems with understand job tasks or conflicts between employees.

If no one knows what is going on in an organization, because there is confusion about job tasks or there is constant friction between employees, it is essential that the leader become a micromanager.

Whatever the case concerning the organizational culture and the leadership style, however, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Use only the right amount of leadership

This might be easier said than done, but in the end, using too little or too much leadership could be detrimental to organizational effectiveness. Understanding the level of interactive leadership that is necessary is extremely important. Failing to understand exactly what the employees, and the organization, need could be detrimental to productivity.

Be positive, motivational, and encouraging

Regardless of the type of leadership role, interacting with subordinates should be as positive as possible. Even when an employee is doing something poorly, there is a way to turn it around and teach them how to do better, thus changing a difficult situation into something encouraging and potentially motivational.

Implement good strategies

Leadership should not necessarily be about the day-to-day grind with employees, making sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. Instead, leadership should consist of implementing strategies to measure goals. Examples of this is ensuring that everyone knows what their role in the organization is, setting clear goals, and using incentives to motivate when necessary.

Ultimately, good leaders help make work less of an obstacle course for employees, while poor leaders help increase the obstacles for employees to overcome. Leadership style mixed with organizational culture, however, has the potential to either improve or damage organizational operations. Keeping that balance is essential for organizational success.


About Author

Margaret Murrow

Margaret obtained her M.S. in Organizational Psychology and Nonprofit Management in 2014 after spending a decade focused on homeschooling her four children. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Health Psychology and has earned a certification in stress management coaching. When she is not studying, she spends time working as a freelance writer and a certified stress management and business coach for employers around the world.