The following is an account revealing the “implosion” that can occur within large organizations from the top down when Executives micromanage.

Jane was hand selected to assist with building a complex department for a large non-profit organization. Her entire investment lasted seven years. In this course of time, she was required to launch new entities within and refine standing entities to “stop the bleeding” as her leaders requested at a roundtable only months into the project. She committed to the task with vision and empowerment threaded through every training, meeting and project working long hours with a drive that was unstoppable.

Within the first two years, she had created a department consisting of 6 total entities that operated with 5 support leaders overseeing an average of 50 staff and 50 volunteers. The team grew in strength and unity under the leadership of Jane due to concentrated efforts on regular team building exercises, and highly interactive problem solving activities. She purposefully created many platforms in which each member could grow and expand on their giftings and talents. The support leaders felt empowered regularly with opportunities to lead their groups at meetings, create their own written documents for their respective teams and utilize their own style. In addition, Jane planned bi-yearly events where team members could grow in their relationships with one another, such as kayaking trips, picnics with interactive activities and holiday parties, again with planned interactivity.

In the latter part of the second year, there was a big change in upper level management shifting Jane’s supervisor to a new face. This new leader had come from a corporate atmosphere and spent the first 2 years just getting to know the key leaders. He was very pleased with Jane and commended her in front of the 20 other departmental leaders that had existed within this non-profit for her leadership as well as putting her department “in the black” in such a short time. Jane understood and lived by the principle that a leader is nothing without his/her people and found that empowering them was the quickest way to accomplishing the vision she imparted from the start. Her success continued to expand with 90% employee retention and increases of 15% gains each year.

It was in the fifth year that things began to change for Jane. An economic downturn hit hard creating new pressure on the Executive team. Jane’s supervisor, who was appointed over 9 of the 20 internal departments, began to use his “corporate maneuvers” to initiate changes he thought might help the bottom line. However, these changes would soon unravel almost everything Jane had done. Below are a few examples of the initiatives he executed over the next (and last) of Jane’s two years inside this organization:

  • Interrogate at length each Key Leader
  • Divide larger departments into multiple smaller ones, each answering directly to the Executive without discussion or consensus from Key Leaders
  • Require constant reports and carbon copies on emails
  • Institute regular meetings with key leaders as well as support leaders
  • Mandate permission for each new project or initiative from all leaders

At times some of these tactics can be useful to executives but, if installed without engaging those whom it will affect, it can end in organization implosion. In this case, the results of this type of micromanagement resulted in the following quickly and progressively:

  • Sudden increase in leaders and key persons resigning
  • Intense discouragement and frustration amongst key persons who stayed
  • Key persons who feel pressured and uneasy. Sometimes even inadvertently micromanaging their own teams out of fear to obtain perfect results for their supervisor.
  • Dissension and division building within and between other departments
  • Heightened employee disengagement reducing productivity amongst leaders and team members
  • Once healthy bottom lines, skyrocketing into the red

These are just a few of the devastating results that can occur when top executives are allowed to apply initiatives that stifle creativity and dis-empower their leaders. It is the most destructive form of micro managing and can cripple or destroy an entire organization very quickly from the inside out.

For the past decade, Gallup has produced statistics that average out to 71% of Corporate America being disengaged. (Source: State of the American Workplace, pub. 2103) This case study is only a small drop in a sea of stories like this. The fact is for all workers that high performance and engaged individuals can only be obtained through empowering others. There are many methods of empowerment but all must stem from daily and purposefully creating platforms where individuals can thrive in the talents they were hired for and experience a sense of value for their contributions.

By Michelle L Steffes, President IPV Consulting, LLC Certified Coach / Consultant / Speaker / Writer /

Michelle is stated to be “a leader of leaders” in training people and teams. With well over 20 years leadership experience, she knows what it takes to excel both as an Executive and an Entrepreneur. She has led teams of 5-100 in a variety of environments. She has also performed multitudes of training meetings and live sales presentations for small and large events.

Image Source: The Pruitt-Igoe Myth (1954) Pruitt-Igoe’s buildings [Photo]. St. Louis, Missouri. Retrieved from