Click here for Tony Mayo's podcastThis short podcast describes an important step in the growth of business owners and other leaders, moving beyond the urge to control and micro-manage every action toward acting with confidence in your team and your own ability to respond to every eventuality.


Thanks to MusicOpen for providing public domain recordings of Beethoven.


Hello. I’m Tony Mayo, the Business Owner’s Executive Coach with one quick idea you can use in your business …today.

Here’s the gist of today’s leadership coaching. Control …is an illusion. End your quest for certainty and proceed …with confidence.

The business owners I work with tend to have very clear ideas about the results they want to produce, and about the methods used to produce those outcomes. Unfortunately, this clarity and strong intention can misguide them into attempting to control every step of the project. Unfortunately, such detailed control is mostly impossible. Managers who try to control their people are kidding themselves —and their employees know it. We call them micro-managers, which has a double meaning. By attempting to manage details at a micro level, these managers shrink their own stature and effectiveness as leaders, becoming micro– versions of real managers. Micro-managers

If you’re doing anything significant involving other people, resources, time, and chance, you cannot control everything. It’s just not humanly possible. Worse, any attempt to do so, discourages the very best people working with you. Because –think about it– the most intelligent, creative, responsible people don’t want to be controlled; they want to contribute. They want to participate. They want to be creative. The very people you most want on your team are the same ones who most want to matter, to affect the process, and influence the outcome. To be left alone to get their jobs done.

You may be thinking, “Okay, Coach. Say I’m willing to give up this illusion of control? What’s the alternative? What do I do, sit back and watch?”

Of course not. I suggest delegating, not abdicating. My recommended alternative to grasping at control is to move forward with _confidence_; the conviction that you can respond effectively to the many unpredictable, uncontrollable events that are part of any worthwhile project.

When you’re clear about your commitments, your skills, and your ability …to respond, you will be _confident_, whatever happens, that you will respond appropriately.

My friend, Lt. General Gene Forrester, illustrated this principle for me with the example of Napoleon. Napoleon only ordered his field marshals to station their troops at a particular place, at a specific time, prepared to attempt a certain result. How they got there and the tactics they used were up to the field commanders and their officers.

My friend went on to tell of his experience commanding the American occupation of the Dominican Republic in 1965. Because of the violence and chaos on the ground, he had planned an aerial assault, dropping men and heavy equipment by parachute just outside the capital.

While in the air, my friend was contacted by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff with new orders. Because an airdrop might look too violent and aggressive, an agreement had been negotiated with a faction of the Dominican Army. They agreed to allow the US troops to land and deploy from a military air field.

That makes sense, the general agreed, but it is impossible. We are airborne with enough tanks and trucks for 22,000 troops securely attached to parachutes and pallets, positioned over bomb bay doors, ready to drop. There was physically no way to get them out of a plane once it was on the ground. The equipment had to be parachuted.

I hear what you’re saying, said the Chief. And, I received this order personally from the President of the United States. …Figure it out.

The General happened to have on his aircraft the Captain who had written the manual on how to rig, stow, and air drop combat equipment. After a brief consultation, the Captain confirmed that it was physically impossible to roll those vehicles off an airplane on the ground. And, the Captain who wrote the manual also knew that in war not everything got done by the book. There are things even a general or a President can’t control, but there’s nothing an officer with confidence won’t attempt.

This Captain radioed the Master Sergeant who had supervised the rigging and loading and told him what was needed. He said, “Yes, sir.” The Captain asked, “You understand that this has to be done en route, right now, without landing?” The sergeant said, “Yes, sir.”

The Captain asked, “How are you going to do it?”

“I don’t know, sir. I just know that we will.”

A few hours later, those planes landed and the equipment rolled off, followed by tons of smashed, slashed, bent, and burnt packing materials.

That’s confidence. Instead of trying to control every step, the commanders from President Johnson right down to the Master Sergeant proceeded with confidence in their ability to unleash the ingenuity and determination of their teams.

So please, try being less attached to the methods and how things are done, and more clear about the outcome you desire, and the reasons for it. Be confident that you’ll be able to have the conversations, take the actions, provide the resources called for, no matter what happens. You don’t need to control. Be confident.

Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoy this podcast, that you apply it and you share it.