Are You a Helicopter Leader? (take the quiz now!)

We’ve all heard the saying, “If you want something done right, you better do it yourself.” But with this outlook, it’s difficult to learn to let go and trust others to do what they were hired to do. Effective leaders know when to hold the reins, and when to entrust their team. Helicopter leaders hover, smother, and micromanage. Micromanagement is a common management style characterized by a need to closely supervise and control the work of subordinates. Micromanagers tend to give excessive guidance, monitor tasks closely, and provide frequent critical feedback. This style negatively impacts productivity, morale, and retention.

You may be a helicopter leader without even realizing it. The need for control and perfection can be so overwhelming, that you may not recognize you are projecting that desire onto your team. Self-awareness is the first step to becoming a more effective and respected leader. Start by taking our short quiz to find out where you fall on the helicopter leader scale:

Here are a couple of red flags you can look out for to know for sure if you are micromanaging your team. Even a few of these are enough to consider stepping back and loosening the reigns on your team.

You Want to Be Copied on All Emails

If you think you need to be copied on every single email between your direct reports, this desire for full visibility into communications is a red flag. Not only does this increase pressure on your direct reports, but also risks overwhelming your own inbox without providing value.

You Expect Frequent Check-Ins

Do you expect your team to check in with you every day for guidance on tasks? Frequent check-ins should not be necessary for employees to complete their work. Seeking constant input points to reluctance to trust your team.

You Struggle to Delegate

If you have trouble handing off tasks and responsibilities, it points to a reluctance to lose control. Delegation helps develop your team and alleviates your workload. Delegating is often the number one most challenging obstacle for leaders, whether they micromanage or not! Take solace in the fact that you’re most certainly not alone but examine why this skill might be so difficult for you personally.

You Fixate on Minor Details

Helicopter leaders often zoom in on small, even trivial details instead of the bigger picture. Whether it’s formatting minutiae or unjustified deadline changes, sweating the small stuff diverts focus from what’s most important.

You Have Trouble Empowering and Motivating Others

Helicopter leaders usually make all the decisions themselves versus empowering team members with autonomy. Failing to empower limits growth, innovation, and commitment from your staff. This can also lead to trouble with motivating individual team members because you are so caught up in controlling the collective outcome. An unempowered and unmotivated team can lead to frequent conflict and turnover.

Paying attention to these potential signs of micromanagement can help you recognize if your leadership style is sufficiently empowering or whether course correction could better serve your team. With self-awareness about behaviors, you can assess whether more balance is needed in oversight while still providing appropriate guidance. Simply being conscious of micromanaging tendencies is the first step toward addressing them. The next step is to learn the skills and mindset necessary to step back and create a workspace that is more effective for both you and your team. To learn more, check out our program, Helicopter Leaders Hover, Effective Leaders Get Out of the Way.”