The other day I was listening to an interview with Henry Mintzberg, legend in management thought. Mintzberg said a plethora of things I am still processing but one thing in particular struck me. Mintzberg said it quickly and then moved on, but my mind won’t let go as quickly as he did.
“Micromanaging isn’t a dangerous as macroleading.”
There’s a near consensus that micromanaging is gone. Whether you pull from empowerment advocates, motivational models or just plain common sense, individual contributors most often want to be given the right resources, told the objective, and be left alone to work. The exception of course being in the early stages of a new work assignment, when supervision and feedback are needed as part of training. Micromanaging can cause decreased in performance and maybe even increases in turnover.
But is macroleading even more dangerous?
Mintzberg defines Macroleading as when leaders get so focused on setting strategy and vision that they remove themselves from the front lines and eventually develop a vision for the organization so out of touch that the rest of the organization fails to buy in…or worse buys in but is incapable of taking any steps toward realization. Macroleadership sets a vision and hopes that performance toward the objective may occur. Yet, if no one knows where to go, then the leader’s efforts have been futile.
Perhaps Mintzberg is right. Though the temptation is to stay away and not micromanaging, perhaps leaders need to get involved on the front lines, understand what’s realistic, and then begin doing all the fancy stuff we associate with top-level leadership.
What do you think: micromanage or macrolead?