Desire for Control is Killing Your Organization

Desire for Control is Killing Your Organization

Letting go is never easy.

Many parents, for example, find it difficult to loosen the reins of control on their growing children — even in the face of startling statistics on the damage inflicted by controlling parents.

As adults, 96% of people who had controlling parents worry and ruminate over confrontations. Close to 91% are extra sensitive to criticism, while 82% become perfectionists who are rarely satisfied with themselves.

Simply put, control is unhealthy. It is unhealthy in relationships and it is extremely unhealthy in a workplace environment.

According to the survey by Harry Chambers, 79% of responding employees said they’ve been micromanaged in at least one point during their careers, and they single out micromanagement as the most significant barrier to productivity. Also, a study by the Journal of Experimental Psychology showed that employees who believe they are being watched perform at lower levels.

Yet, despite all the statistics and surveys, leaders still have a hard time letting go. Controlling and micromanaging seem to be the leadership styles of choice.

The results are constant turnovers, low productivity, frequent change of direction, lack of creativity, and so on.

So what would Jesus, the greatest leader of all time, teach us about control? Does His life, including the way He related to His followers, give us any insights? Absolutely!

If there was ever a leader who had every right and the wherewithal to control not only His followers but also His entire movement, it was Jesus. After all, He was fully God and fully man. Yet, despite the fact that He could have, He did not.

He could have come as a powerful king to establish His earthly Kingdom; instead, He came as a child and later endured ridicule and cruelty from the very people He came to save. He could have saved the life of John the Baptist. He could have prevented His followers from being persecuted for their faith. He could have fed the five thousand all by Himself by raining manna from heaven (after all, that’s how He fed Israel for 40 years) without using someone else’s fish and bread, but He didn’t. Finally, He could have said no to the cross, but, thank God, He did not.

The beauty of Jesus’ leadership lies not in the control He exerts over His followers, but in the gentle way He shepherds us so that we can experience His fullness.

His way is full of grace, forgiveness and second chances. His invitation to all who are tired and weary is to find rest instead of constant strife. He is a leader who never leaves nor forsakes; yet, when necessary, He corrects and reorients. He doesn’t demand or force His way. He invites and guides those committed to His cause. His preferred leadership style is freedom instead of control.

Thomas à Kempis once said: “Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.” 

You see, before attempting to control those who follow you and micromanaging every aspect of your organization, you should instead focus on mastering yourself. You cannot effectively lead others unless you first learn to lead yourself.

And once you do, you’ll find that there is higher productivity, better problem solving, more creativity, and more peace and joy by leading through freedom rather than control.


Megan Pacheco

Megan Pacheco

Megan Pacheco is the Chief Learning Officer at Lead Like Jesus. Born and raised in Poland, Megan moved to the U.S. at 17 and after finishing her studies, she started work in the faith-based sector, where she has served for over 13 years. She comes with years of experience in product development, marketing and alliances and is passionate about using her God-given talents to advance the cause of Christ. Megan is a writer, and her content on issues like personal finances, money and marriage and  raisingchildren have been published by More Living, Yahoo Finance, AllParenting, FoxBusiness, DailyFinance, and Crosswalk. Megan is married to David and they have two sons, Joshua and Daniel.

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