“Great Leaders Are Not Controlling”
Letting go is never easy.
Many parents, for example, find it difficult to loosen the reins of control on their growing children — even in the face of startling statistics on the damage inflicted by controlling parents.
As adults, 96% of people who had controlling parents worry and ruminate over confrontations. Close to 91% are extra sensitive to criticism, while 82% become perfectionists who are rarely satisfied with themselves.
Control is unhealthy. It is unhealthy in relationships and it is extremely unhealthy in a workplace environment.
According to the survey by Harry Chambers, 79% of responding employees said they’ve been micromanaged in at least one point during their careers, and they single out micromanagement as the most significant barrier to productivity. Also, a study by the Journal of Experimental Psychology showed that employees who believe they are being watched perform at lower levels.
Yet, despite all the statistics and surveys, leaders still have a hard time letting go.
The results are constant turnovers, low productivity, frequent change of direction, lack of creativity, and so on. So what would Jesus teach us about control?
If there was ever a leader who had every right and the wherewithal to control not only His followers but also His entire movement, it was Jesus.
He could have come as a powerful king to establish His earthly Kingdom; instead, He came as a child and later endured ridicule and cruelty from the very people He came to save. He could have saved the life of John the Baptist. He could have prevented His followers from being persecuted for their faith. He could have fed the five thousand all by Himself by raining manna from heaven (after all, that’s how He fed Israel for 40 years) without using someone else’s fish and bread, but He didn’t. Finally, He could have said no to the cross, but, thank God, He did not.
The beauty of Jesus’ leadership lies not in the control He exerts over His followers, but in the gentle way He shepherds us so that we can experience His fullness.
His way is full of grace, forgiveness and second chances. He is a leader who never leaves nor forsakes; yet, when necessary, He corrects and reorients. He doesn’t demand or force His way. He invites and guides those committed to His cause. His preferred leadership style is freedom instead of control.