This week, I’m looking at the Controller gremlin, and how we can learn to manage our anxiety-driven need for control.
Sophie, a senior project manager in technology, wanted to control everything and became stressed and impatient when that didn’t happen. While others liked Sophie, no one wanted to be on the wrong side of her!
- Confident and action-oriented – ‘If I work hard enough, everything should go my way.’
- Decisive and willful – ‘Others want and need me to take control. I’m doing them a favour.’
- Persistent – ‘I am trying to get the job done for everyone’s sake!’
- Confrontational – ‘I need to push others to get things done.’
In a Professional Setting …
Professionals like Sophie, and like those on my Confidence Catalyst programme, tend to push people beyond their comfort zones. They get a lot of energy from ‘doing the impossible’ and beating the odds, and are often seen as intimidating, as their straight-talking communication style can be interpreted by others as anger or criticism. Often, these types of professionals come to executive coaching sessions as a way of managing their need for control.
Controllers make short-term gains, but they often lose long-term influence. Their need for control becomes too much for others, who begin to feel they can’t contribute, and thus aren’t needed.
But true intimacy and trust in a team requires vulnerability, and a willingness from the Controller to admit they need help from others. When working with Controllers, it’s vital to reframe needing others as key to not just ‘success,’ but to survival overall!
Could You be a Controller?
Sophie ultimately recognised how ineffective it was for her to even imagine she could control everything. You can do the same, by reflecting on these simple questions:
- How could giving away more work be better for you?
- If you recognised you couldn’t control everything yourself, what would that allow?
- When did someone you didn’t initially rate actually succeed at the task?