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Have you been in a situation where you feel someone is hovering over your every move and it’s your actions don’t align exactly to how they want it’s just not good enough? Maybe you’ve encountered this in the workplace, maybe at home, maybe you are the one feeling stifled, maybe you are the one hovering. In all cases, it’s safe to say that this dynamic of power and control is commonplace. Without a good management system up to 52% of time is wasted on futile ‘approval seeking’ tasks.

Why is it that we witness so much controlling behavior in relationships? Often it’s due to perfectionism, when there is a picture of what ‘right’ looks like, and anything that even strays slightly from that picture becomes wrong and unacceptable. We are taught in school that there is only one right answer, we are groomed to seek perfection, as we mature we come to realize there are many ways of doing the same thing and in fact divergent views brings about great solutions and creativity. But how we do we arrive at creative problem solving if we keep butting heads with anyone who doesn’t see eye to eye with us? We have encountered several cases of this when working with our corporate clients, the manager’s presence can be so intimidating that their team won’t speak up and relay valuable information, pose questions or offer different and more efficient ways of conducting the work.

There is a famous case study where a nurse notices that a patient has been prescribed the wrong medication by the doctor but because of his position doesn’t question him and thereby causing great harm to the patient. We get caught up in our positions of power that it supersedes our ability to think independently, rationally, and clearly. What happens to the decision-making mechanism, was the nurse not intelligent? No, she was fearful, so scared to go against authority that she doubted her own expertise. Controlling behavior is a projection of insecurity and fear and it also breeds insecurity and fear in others. Often the boss that is hyper controlling is the one is who most afraid to look bad in front of his peers and his seniors so he meticulously oversees all operations to ensure nothing falls between the cracks.

An expression of this control is usually displayed through anger, stress levels are high, patience is running thin and tempers are quick. 67% of employees feel they can make a mistake at work without their manager holding it against them. Let’s examine the emotional factors here, the boss is scared of how he is perceived, the team is scared to get anything wrong and anger is the most evident expression of control. Teams work great when they have a license to make and learn from their mistakes, this promotes lateral thinking and gives them autonomy to achieve the best results by exploring different ways of achieving results. The manager can allow greater trust when he feels supported by his seniors and when his input is valued rather than judged. Anger arises when we don’t get what we want, when we are physically stressed and rigid in our thinking. This is why self-care is so important, the art of slowing down through practices like breathing, meditation and yoga tremendously enhance mood by boosting energy levels and providing deep rest. When we are feeling more relaxed aren’t we able to appreciate different points of view better? The body and the mind are intrinsically connected, by releasing stress from the body the mind can expand from its narrow processes and take on a much broader vision, focused on the goal and accepting of varying viewpoints. It takes a lot of inner strength to be challenged daily, to feel pressure and have a healthy outlet for stress, with this current economic condition the pressure is mounting, but are we equipped to deal with it?

Try some of these to create a more harmonious environment, transforming control to trust:

  1. Invite everyone to share the visionof the company, the more invested you feel in your contribution the more committed you are to the collective action of achieving the company targets. Often, many are suffocating in their siloed operation with no connection to how much their work matters to the whole organization, bring people together and feel a sense of belonging to what you are all creating together.


  1. Empower each person to be responsible for their own actions, that accountability and space allows a freedom that brings forth calm and creative thinking. When was the last time you were happy with the results having taken a decision from an emotionally disturbed state? Often we regret our actions if we are operating in haste, feeling emotionally balanced heightens productivity.


  1. Encourage self care, stress is personal, everyone needs time to deal with it. The more practices of slowing down, reflection and mindfulness are modelled in the workplace the more people will allow themselves time to release stress so it doesn’t contaminate the office environment. If you are feeling frustrated, angry or restless take 20 minutes to find your center, be it for a walk, some breathing techniques or meditation, the more normalized it is in the workplace the more they can rely on the team to cover for them when they need it, galvanizing the working relationships of support and care


  1. Embody a learning environment, sharing obstacles and vulnerabilities will help people accept their mistakes and move on, the more we seek to blame we drain our energy finding excuses and explanations which keeps us stuck in victim and culprit consciousness, this causes stress to the nervous system, inhibits clear decision making and curtails collaborative discussions and communications. When the corporate culture can change its lens towards the lessons hidden behind mistakes, it releases a lot of shame and doubt which puts you off the scorecard of judgement that govern a lot of the office politics.

According to the predictive index, 30% of employees believe their manager lacks team-building skills. For more tips and deeper learnings we have corporate training programs and workshops that help to instill these values in leadership and ensure teams are ready for inevitable market uncertainties with a sense of collective courage and commitment.

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