One Word Micromanagers Use That You Must Avoid

Conflict management

With leadership comes responsibility. A significant portion of that responsibility includes being accountable for team members’ behaviors. While this might sound like no big deal, trying to influence or control what other people do is hard.  

The strategies and tactics managers leverage but are not limited to include; setting clear standards, aligning teams to core values, defining hiring processes, providing coaching, and having difficult dialogues. While all of these are effective and things I teach leaders to use, there is a less effective method many managers adhere to called micromanaging. 

Now before you act as you have never micromanaged, stop right there. You have been guilty of it, and I have as well. To closely observe, control, or remind others what they should be doing or how they should be doing is an easy thing to do when you are ultimately responsible for their choices. But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it correct.

What is Micromanagement and Why Do We Do It?

The term micromanagement has skyrocketed in popularity in the last few decades. Webster defines it as “manage[ment] especially with excessive control or attention on details.” It has a negative connotation both in the marketplace and to employees because it limits the freedom to complete jobs or tasks instead of trusting things will be done correctly. 

Managers tend to micromanage for one of three reasons:

  • Comfort – Many managers were successful in the role the people they now lead are currently work in, so it’s comfortable for them to get in the weeds. 
  • Connectedness – There is a sense of being a unit when a manager helps do the work with their team. 
  • Importance – No manager wants to feel they aren’t necessary anymore. So they micromanage to feel important. 

Many full-fledged micromanagers have been exposed and removed from their position in the last few years because of high turnover rates, engagement surveys, and 360° Leadership assessments. However, the best leaders know there is a fine line between setting high standards and coaching someone and reminding others what they should be doing and how they should be doing it.  

Small Changes Make a Big Difference

Since most managers don’t have an overt problem with micromanagement, they often do small things that lead to their people feeling micromanaged. These small things tend to be the words they use and when they use them.  

Leaders can make small changes in communication to lead to big changes in performance. 

One word managers use to modify the behavior of an employee is the word “Don’t.” Not only is it a micromanaging word, but it’s demotivating to people. Here is how managers typically use it:

  • Don’t do it that way.”
  • Don’t miss the deadline.”
  • Don’t say it like that; say it like this.”

Writing these statements that start with “don’t” exudes a manager trying to control, not inspire. Since inspiration is a key to elevating others, breathing life into team members will help change behavior with an internal trigger instead of an external motivator.  

The best leaders don’t control, they inspire.

The word “don’t” has a negative connotation, and it stirs up feelings of defensiveness in people. Instead of responding positively, more often than not, it will have someone responding a begrudgingly way.  

Just check out these same statements communicated without the word “don’t.”

  • “Do you need any help making the deadline?”
  • “Try saying it this way to see if you get a better response.”
  • “I love your effort; if you modify your technique there is a chance it’s easier for you.”

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the enormous difference between a leader communicating like this versus one using the word “don’t.”


Eliminating or modifying a word from “don’t” from your managerial language won’t be easy. The challenge to you this week is to take a mental checklist around how often you say the word “don’t” to your colleagues, teammates, significant other, or even your kids.

Once you recognize the extent of your “don’t” habit, then it’s time to change your language moving forward to something more positive, inspirational, and encouraging.  

Leverage Accountability in Leadership: The development of your accountability skills will make a tremendous difference in helping you lead your best in 2021. Join me for the next Leveraging Accountability in LeadershipWorkshop!

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

How to Make Sure You Don’t Become a Bad Leader

Nobody starts out wanting to be a bad leader. Yet ego-driven, power-hungry, micromanaging, absent-minded managers and executives are prevalent in organizations. But don’t just take my word for it. In our research, more than 50% of respondents rated their leader as being below average.

What gives? 

Before I give you some ways to protect yourself from becoming a bad leader, it’s essential to provide the context of how I defined being a leader in Building the Best: Someone whose actions inspire, empower, and serve in order to elevate others.  

Why There Are So Many Bad Leaders

In most cases, bad leadership begins with either a lack of understanding about what good leadership is or assuming leadership is a job, instead of a mindset backed up by actions.

Leadership isn’t a job, it’s a mindset backed up by actions to elevate others.

Instead of debating all the reasons for the current lousy leader population, now is the time to become aware of ways to protect yourself from becoming a bad leader.

Know Your Core Values

I don’t care how old you are or what kind of role you have; there is one thing that is intimately important to ensure you are becoming the kind of leader you want to be, knowing your core values. 

Core values are simply the fundamental beliefs a person holds true. Once established with clarity, these guiding beliefs dictate behavior and help you decipher right from wrong. Here is why this is so important. Your current feelings and emotions win over your values if they aren’t clearly defined and intentionally set.  

When this happens, you will end up as a bad leader, justifying all those poor decisions. Don’t let this happen to you. Take the time to either define your core values or remind yourself of them.

If you want some help, download the Personal Core Values Blueprint here

Audit the Content Going to Your Mind

Tom Ziglar told me years ago, “What you feed your mind determines your appetite.” Which mimics his dad, Zig Ziglar’s famous quote:

“You are what you are and where you are, because of what’s gone into your mind. You can change what you are, and you can change where you are by changing what goes into your mind.” 

If you want to protect yourself from becoming a lousy leader, regularly audit the content going into your mind (You’re off to a great start reading this blog). Unfortunately, it might mean not binge-watching the next hot show on Netflix in favor of listening to a podcast or a leadership book. 

While this might seem trivial, small decisions like these add up to significant results over time. 

Increase Personal Accountability

Often, bad leaders don’t have people in their lives to hold them accountable to a certain standard. Typically it’s because they believe they’re self-disciplined enough not to need it or feel they are above it.

Accountability doesn’t happen by accident.  

Here is the trick, accountability doesn’t happen by accident. It takes inviting people into your life to hold you accountable. This can come in the context of a professional coach, friend, colleague, spouse, or a growth group. Regardless of who it is or how you do it, continually increase the accountability year after year. 

Don’t Underestimate the Temptation of Power

Most people want the promotion because of the greater sense of power that comes with the position. While there is nothing wrong with power on its own, it isn’t something to take lightly. As Plato said, “The measure of a man is what he does with power.” Power can bring out the worst in people – micromanagement, control issues, inflated egos, or disrespect for others. 

One of the best ways to circumvent power is to give it away. Once you get to a leadership role, empower others to make decisions they can make. 


These are just a few ways to protect yourself from becoming a bad leader. Now it’s your job to ensure they are in place, or you risk becoming a statistic like the majority of leaders in our study. 

How do you handle working with or for a bad leader? Tell me in the comments section.

Leverage Accountability in Leadership: Ready to take your accountability skills to the next level? Join us for the next Leverage Accountability in Leadership Workshop. Sign up and get “Proven Techniques to Leverage Accountability” immediately. Sign up today!

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Take the Free Leadership Style Quiz? Join over 55k leaders and discover your current leadership style for free.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

Why Your Company’s Purpose Must Go Beyond Making Money

Twenty years ago Jay Shah got his first job in finance and in the course of a year, he went from selling credit cards to collecting overdue balances on those same cards. It didn’t take him long to figure out the industry had some things backward, and he wanted to be part of a company doing it the right way. 

Fast forward to 2019. Shah is now the CEO of Personal Capital, a hyper-growth financial services and technology firm who exists to bring clarity and confidence to financial lives.

I sat down with him for an interview on the Follow My Lead Podcast and as we wrapped, I thought, “I don’t know another company in the finance world this purpose-driven.”

The words purpose-driven and finance don’t seem to even go in the same sentence because of a vast majority of people think the purpose of a finance company is “making money.” While making money is incredibly important for any business, not just in finance, a purpose-driven organization connects its mission to a deeper meaning in order to align its employees and make better business decisions.

Purpose isn’t just about words on a website or hanging on a wall. Shah and Personal Capital live out their purpose-driven culture. Here’s what we can learn about purpose from them:   

The Purpose Has to Go Beyond Money

Wealth Management is a $30 trillion industry and most companies in the financial services space have always made money on profiting, in the short-term, from their clients. The financial services industry is broken because lack a focus on truly serving the consumer. And because of their size, the right-hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. Remember what happened with Wells Fargo?

Personal Capital’s purpose statement doesn’t read, “maximize shareholder value,” it reads “we bring clarity and confidence to financial lives.” That’s the point Shah proclaimed, “I wanted to focus on the long-term and being more outcome oriented. This way our clients can clearly understand the short-term decisions and the opportunity path forward to improve their personal outcomes.”

The better the organization does at making their purpose come to life for their clients, the better its own balance sheet is going to look.

Define and Celebrate Core Values

Core values are the fundamental beliefs an organization holds to be true. Unfortunately, many organizations define their core values, plaster them on their websites, and rarely look at them again. They’re so generic they could belong to an organization in any industry.

Shah, along with his 400 person workforce, defined five core values and put them in phrases that drive the behaviors of each and every employee:

  1. We get behind being upfront.
  2. We work hard to make things simple.
  3. We make all our business personal.
  4. We team up and break down any challenge.
  5. We build and uphold our legacy of trust.

They didn’t stop there, Personal Capital celebrates those who live out their core values on a daily basis. At any point, any employee can highlight another. Talented people aren’t interested in the defining of core values but rather the exercising of them.

Don’t Focus on the ROI of Being Purpose Driven

Being part of a company whose mission statement is “transforming financial lives through technology and people” is exciting. Admittedly, Shah knows that doesn’t guarantee anything, “Just because you are a purpose-driven company, doesn’t mean you will succeed. If I could have a choice between being purpose driven or profit motive or whatever else might drive you, I am going to choose purpose driven because it’s inspirational for all of us. Energy and transfer of enthusiasm that happens from our employees to our customers I don’t know the return but it really increases the odds.”

If a company in the difficult finance industry can be purpose-driven, I know yours can, and should as well.

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training John is also the author the upcoming book Building the Best: The Proven Leadership Framework to Elevate Others to Successand host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on instagram @johngeades.