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7 Warning Signs You May Be a Controlling Leader

I regularly talk to young leaders through my blog, and many of them feel they are working for a controlling leader.

In a recent post, I talked about the three results of controlling leadership.

In full disclosure, one of my top strengths on the StrengthsFinder assessment is COMMAND. I’ll take over if no one else in the room will—so some of the young leaders on my team may have felt that way about me at times. I have to discipline myself not to be a controlling leader.

But it’s a value for me personally not to be one, so I consistently try to evaluate. (And I’ve let teams I lead evaluate me.) And also granted, as I’ve posted previously, I believe there are some things a leader needs to control—especially early in their leadership. For example, I have controlled (or micromanaged) the hiring of key staff members during my beginning years of church revitalization. We are changing a culture. I am building a team—one I don’t have to control. And that’s worked well so far.

The odd thing I find is that many controlling leaders never really know they are one. They may actually even believe they are being good leaders—making sure things go well for the organization.

As I’ve pointed out in previous posts about this issue, controlling leaders are ever present in the church.

So, maybe if you’re reading this, you are still wondering if you might be a controlling leader. Or if you work for one.

Here are seven warning signs that you may be a controlling leader:

Your team struggles to share new ideas. Are people sheepish around you when they have an idea that may be different from yours? Do they start apologizing prior to approaching you with a new idea? Do they appear timid, fearful, even reluctant to share a thought? This may be on them—it might be on you, leader.

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Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping churches grow vocationally for over 10 years.