Micromanagement Is The Enemy of Strategic Thinking

Micro-management Is The Enemy of Strategic Thinking

In last week’s blog post, we discussed the way that leaders’ actions impact the cultivation of strategic thinking within their companies. This week, we continue the theme by examining the role that micromanaging plays in the process.

Heed the warning. Leaders who micromanage create an environment of compliance where people won’t think strategically and don’t act as partners.

Micromanaging suffocates strategic thinking because it forces people to interact at a tactical level only. It requires people to protect their world, and a huge amount of their energy just goes into how to survive and keep their boss off their back.

One research study on micromanagement by Dr. Robert Hurley PhD at Fordham University found that 30 to 35% of executives succeed as managers but faltered as leaders when they found themselves in higher-level positions. “For this sizable group of under-performing executives, the underlying root cause is compulsive micromanagement caused by perfectionist tendencies. By micromanagement we mean an over-controlling style that inappropriately inhibits the people the executive needs to mobilize,” says Dr. Hurley.

To counteract this, we suggest that executives and managers ask their staff to think about what they would do if they were put in charge of a particular situation, department or organization. Ask your staff what they would start, stop or continue, then discuss the responses as a group so people can learn to think strategically at a level or two above their current job.

Just remember that you will never get any company strategy perfect, rational or right enough to work without having engagement and commitment at all levels. Encouraging your staff to participate in strategic planning and practice strategic thinking is key to creating a strategy that does not just get talked, but walked.

Cheat Sheet of Strategic Thinking Dos and Don’ts


  • Actively ask for input from all departments and levels.
  • Promote and incorporate others’ ideas.
  • Ask your staff what they would start, stop or continue in your position.
  • Routinely balance out your meetings by discussing both strategic and tactical issues.


  • Make strategic development an exclusive club limited to the higher-ups.
  • Stifle strategic thinking by not being open to and acting on others’ feedback.
  • Try and maintain control by micromanaging.
  • Solely focus on and encourage tactical thinking in meetings.

How has strategic thinking been hindered in your organization? I would love to hear your comments.

Founder and President of Quantum Performance Inc., a management consulting firm specializing in generating total alignment and engagement in organizations.

His work has encompassed a broad range of industries including banking, telecommunications, manufacturing, entertainment, real estate, retail, startups and non-profits.

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