Words Instruct, Experience Teaches | Proactive Leadership

Numerous economic studies have shown that a reliance on welfare perpetuates itself into the future.

The same can be said of micro-management.

Managers who rely on micro-management to ensure adequate employee performance quickly discover a very unpleasant truth

That once they start micro-managing their people, they are unable to stop.

Their dependency on this management behaviour becomes their new norm.

Are you ready to overcome the unhealthy management practices that are preventing you from becoming the trusted and respected leader you desire to be?


Micro-management is the product of fear.

Common fears we have coached managers on getting past include:

  • Fear of making a mistake.
  • Fear of appearing stupid or incompetent to others.
  • Fear of not appearing perfect.
  • Fear of not meeting others’ expectations.
  • Fear of not meeting self-imposed expectations.

The key point here is that micro-managers’ behaviour is driven by fear.

The root source of this fear is insecurity.

And insecurity only exists in the mind of the beholder.

This implies that workers who are micro-managed and the perceived need for a manager to micro-manage are not connected

Or connected minimally at most.


As the title of this article suggests, words instruct but experience teaches.

Micro-managers rely on unnecessarily detailed verbal instruction to control their workers’ behaviour and, they mistakenly believe, their workers’ outcomes.

Verbal instruction equates to execution.

Execution, in this sense, is action without thought.

Action without thought does not allow an employee the opportunity to learn why they are doing what they are doing and why they are doing it as they are doing it.

Not learning why something is done a certain way prevents an employee from discovering how to do it better.

Without improvement, employees are unable to achieve increasingly better results.

This is the importance of Experience.

Experience creates the conditions whereby a worker must think about what they are doing.

This thinking expands an employee’s understanding of how they do their job, which quickly transitions to ideas of how to do their job better.


If you are a micro-manager, there is good news.

Micro-managers can exit this cycle of behaviour if they are willing to apply some effort.

Fortunately, 99% of the effort is mental so no heavy lifting is necessary.

First, micro-managers need to honestly self-reflect on why they feel the need to do this WITHOUT resorting to excuses.

That’s right….NO EXCUSES…put your ego behind you.

Next, accept that it is ok to offer your workers instruction where you have insight or experience that they won’t have…but be conscious of when you are going too far.

Acknowledge that in most cases there are many different ways to accomplish a certain outcome…not just your way.

And… most importantly…learn to trust your employees and their skills.

In most workplaces, if an employee lacked the ability to do the job, they wouldn’t have been hired…so they are therefor a reason.

Lastly, if after all of this, you don’t feel you can trust your existing employees, figure out why.

If their skills are lacking, teach them.

If they shirk their responsibilities and can’t be relied upon, maybe they need a “career adjustment”.

Whatever the reason, though, be honest.

This is the art of proactive leadership.

Micro-managers actually create a climate where their workers will not act without the over-involvement of their boss

This hinders the production of employee outcomes as workers rely on upon this micro-management to get the job done the way their boss wants to avoid having to redo their work.

Micro-management creates the need for more micro-management.

And the cycle continues...

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