The 7 Deadly Sins of Control Freak CEOs

Can't stand the idea of handing tasks off? You're probably guilty of at least one of the following transgressions

Written by Deborah Aarts

1. Denial You think you’re not too involved in the business—but others see it differently. For Mandy Gilbert of Creative Niche Inc., it took feedback from a panel of direct reports, ex-employees and vendors—solicited as part of a leadership-development exercise—to persuade her of her control-freak tendencies. “If you’re choosing to not be self-aware, that’s a decision you’re making,” she says, “but don’t come forward with the same complaints when the problem is you.”

2. Paranoia It’s tempting to distrust your seconds-in-command, especially if they’re new hires. You might worry that they will steal clients if they leave or not work as hard as you. Such paranoia isn’t conducive to effective delegating, says Gilbert. “If you’re having preemptive trust issues, it will show. Think about it: Would you want to work for yourself in this scenario?”

3. Shame It may be one of the dirtiest secrets of entrepreneurship: Many fudge their way through certain tasks. “A lot of us don’t want to hand off tasks because we don’t really know if we’re doing them right,” says Kelsey Ramsden, president of West Kelowna, B.C.-based Belvedere Place Development Ltd. “We think €˜What if I hire a professional and they think the way I’m doing it is rinky-dink?'”

4. Over-industriousness Entrepreneurs tend to be doers who pride themselves on a willingness to get their hands dirty. But that’s not always good. “When you’re too hands-on, it means you’re always working when you should be spending your time defining the vision,” says Louis Fournier, CEO of Montreal-based e-commerce firm Orckestra Conseil Inc.

5. Ego When she started her cosmetics company, president Marion Witz honestly believed she was the best person for the job—every job. If she hadn’t learned to let others give it a shot, she would “probably be crazy,” she says. “I’d have burned out and the company wouldn’t be functioning.”

6. Delusion You can’t use the old complaint “My employees don’t care as much as I do” as an excuse to keep doing everything yourself. Of course it’s important for your top lieutenant to care, but this person won’t love your baby as much as you do. “No one is here out of goodwill—they get a paycheque,” says Jennifer Carscallen, president of Arletta Environmental Consulting Inc. in Calgary. “It’s unrealistic to expect anyone to care as much as I do. I bear most of the burden, but I also reap more of the rewards.”

7. Fear What will happen to your business when you’re no longer the one doing the things that made it successful? And what if hiring a second-in-command backfires? “It feels risky to spend extra money to hire senior people,” says Virginia Poly, founder of Toronto recruiting firm Poly Services Group, “but in the long run it always delivers an increased ROI.”


Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com