Nobody likes a micro-manager. Especially someone who is a leader by nature. Even someone who is a natural follower has their limits with micro-managing. I would imagine there are certainly those out there that want every single last decision made for them and like to be given full, 100% direction as if they were a mindless robot. However, I think that the vast majority of people in this world want some level of what I commonly call, "Creative Control."
No matter what your status or level in the ladder of life or on your job, the more you are empowered to exercise "Creative Control," the more productive and the more successful you will be. This is something that many employers miserably fail to understand. This is something that many leaders miserably fail to understand. Too often leaders have an all-or-nothing approach in regards to how things play out, meaning that they want it "their way or the highway." They want things to work as if they were personally pulling the level on every aspect of the process. Sadly, many don't realize until it is too late that this is just not possible in reality.
A previous employer which will remain nameless struggles in this area quite a bit. All too often one would attend meetings or seminars where you would be told the following: "We want you to take ownership of your store (oops), and/or department. We want you to be creative, think outside the box, and grow your team." Sadly, this lasted only as long as it took to drive back to your store where you were promptly told to do as you were told or seek other employment. Now, admittedly, it may not have happened quite that fast but it certainly would seem to be that fast at times. I think many companies simply want to fool as many of their employees as they can into thinking that they have "Creative Control" without actually giving them that "Creative Control."
The Power of Creative Control doesn't mean that one is free of all rules or restraints. After all, there has to be someone with whom the final vision for the company, ministry, or church is cast. In a store, this would ultimately be the store manager and in a church, it should be the pastor. Once again, sadly, too many churches rebel and fight this biblical mandate and want to ignore the way in which Christ has chosen to exercise His authority in His church. They point to all sorts of reasons, past experiences, and excuses, but the bottom line is that any church that ignores or refuses to follow the biblical model is in error and sin.
Even though there is someone like a store manager or a pastor or other leader that has either the final authority or decision-making ability, this does not mean that they should or even could make all of those decisions. Furthermore, I would argue that even the attempt to make every single decision in an environment where you have multiple levels of people beneath your rank is a foolish thing to do from the start. From the standpoint of a pastor, they would be in opposition to the biblical model for leadership by attempting to do so for pastors are told in the book of 1 Peter the following:
Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; not yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (1 Peter 5:1-4 NASB)
As you can see from the passage, Christ is the Chief Shepherd and He has chosen to exercise His authority over His church through His "under-shepherds," or pastors/elders. So, He expects His pastors to exercise oversight in the church. This means they cast the vision, lead as the primary decision maker, and are ultimately held responsible for the health of the church. This is why it is so vitally important for a church to submit to the pastor's leadership and allow him to lead for it is he that is held responsible by God.
Now, this is generally where some spiritually immature Christian would rebel against this thinking and say that it is wrong or that because some pastor one time treated them badly then you shouldn't allow them to have the oversight. I get where they are coming from because I agree that there have been some really bad pastors in the past and even at the present moment. However, just because you can point to sin and show that frail, weak, sinful humans failed to live up to God's standard, doesn't mean the biblical model should be thrown out the window.
The pastor of the church is not given dictatorial control, meaning that it would be wise if they did not micro-manage and make every single decision in the church. I would argue that it is equally unhealthy if a church goes to a pastor to make every decision, just as it is if a pastor attempts to make every decision. Even though the pastor should not make every decision both because it is impossible and also because it is not a mark of a healthy church, the oversight and overall direction for that church stands or falls with that pastor. So, it would be wise for the church to voluntarily submit to the pastor's leadership and allow him to cast vision in terms of who should be in place to make certain decisions and lead certain areas in the church and if a change needs to be made then it would be wise for the church to submit to his leadership and support the change being proposed.
Now in reference to how the pastor is to go about exercising this oversight, we see in 1 Peter chapter 5 that they are to do it by example and not by compulsion. They are not to lord it over the congregants in a way that makes them seem superior to the others because after all, they are just as in need of a Savior as anyone else. No, the way to do this is by demonstrating correct behavior, demonstrating spiritual maturity, and casting a vision that is in concert with agape love which would put the needs of the congregation over the individual pastor's desires or wants. When you have a pastor that is spiritually mature and is actively putting others needs above their own, when the time finally comes, in those rare instances where the pastor wants to directly make a change, then no rational, reasonable person would have an issue submitting to that leadership.
Having said all that, let me turn my attention back to this subject in a more general way to speak of what "The Power of Creative Control," looks like whether in a business or in a church as I have been in both environments.
The best thing a leader or a pastor, who is also a leader can do is to grant "The Power of Creative Control" to those who are within their area of leadership. For a store manager at a business, this would include all employees but particularly department heads and those with whom the manager has direct authority. For a pastor, this would include ministry leaders, deacons, and all else who fall directly under the pastor's oversight. The reason that granting this power of creative control is so vitally important is for the reasons I have already outlined:
1. A leader can't do everything.
2. A leader can't literally make every single decision in the day-to-day operations of any business, organization, ministry, or church.
3. A leader who attempts to make every single decision in the day-to-day operations is making a foolish attempt to conform every aspect of what they lead to their own needs, wants, and desires.
4. No one, especially in situations where a leader relies on volunteers, wants to be micro-managed.
The Power of Creative Control means that you have the ultimate authority to choose which brush to paint with, which color of paint to use, and what the painting ultimately will look like, both when it is completed but also while it is being painted. There is a real power in having creative control because it unleashes the person's full potential. It also utilizes and enhances the full range of a person's talents and abilities when they have the freedom to make choices and make calls without the fear of someone looking over their shoulder or waiting for them to make a miss-step and then come swooping in to say, "See, I knew you would need me. You can't do this on your own. I knew I would have to watch your every step and fix your mistakes."
What these leaders in this micro-managing situations don't realize is they are failing both as a leader and failing those they serve as leaders. One of the best things you can do in granting the "Power of Creative Control" is to allow people to make mistakes. Let them fall on their face if necessary and let them learn from the consequences of their choices. If you remove consequences from someone then you are doing them no good for their development and growth as a leader themselves because there is no learning curve if someone knows that they will never have to answer for their own decisions.
This is ultimately a true test of a seasoned leader when they can fully make decisions while weighing the costs but not living in fear of the consequences. We desperately need strong leaders who don't live in fear of the consequences. This doesn't mean that one recklessly makes decisions but it also means that they don't hesitate to make a good decision just because the consequences may be unfavorable.
The best thing the leader with oversight can do when one of their people under their oversight has a misstep or makes a mistake is to come along-side them, encourage them, let them know that they still have their back and be available if that person decides to come and ask advice in regards to the failure or misstep. Most of the time, the one who made the error already knows where they messed up and does not need someone over them coming just to remind them of what they already know. This does, however, require a leader to know their people and know what level they are at and how much involvement do they need from you.
In regards to the specifics of decision making in general and how it relates to the "Power of Creative Control," this is a hard step to get to for a leader. We are used to as leaders making decisions and casting vision and guiding processes along the way as they are developed. We as leaders are used to choosing which paint brush to use, which color of paint to use, and how to paint our masterpiece. When we choose to relinquish that creative control to someone else we are making a HUGE STATEMENT! We are saying that this person is not only qualified to do the job but we trust their ability to choose the paintbrush, choose the color, and make creative decisions regarding the development of the area to which they are assigned.
One of the temptations for a leader is when this person that you have granted creative control to makes a decision differently than you would have or doesn't put the same emphasis in a certain area as you would. Basically, they choose blue when you would have chosen green. The correct call to make in that moment is to let it happen. Unless the decision that was made is in direct opposition to the overall vision cast by the leader who has rank then the proper thing to do is to stay out of it and let that leader, to whom you have granted creative control, make their decisions.
A few examples:
1. In a church, if a ministry leader is doing something in opposition to revealed Scripture, then it would be the pastor's job to step in and correct this regardless of the circumstances.
2. In a church, if a pastor puts someone in charge of a certain ministry or area of influence and provides certain direction-setting decisions or goals and the ministry leader goes in direct opposition to it, then the pastor would have every right to step in and correct this.
3. In a church if a pastor puts someone in charge of a certain ministry like music and the music leader exercises their creative control to pick out songs and make decisions relative to the music in the church, then the pastor should withhold stepping in and changing anything just because he may not like the songs that are picked that particular Sunday. If the pastor wanted to run the music department then why have a music leader? The same could be said for other areas as well. After all, nobody wants to be micro-managed. Now, this does not mean that a pastor in rare situations may have a particular request and if both the pastor and the music leader are spiritually mature people this would not and should not be an issue. I think the overall point stands without having to dissect each and every possible scenario that could arise.
4. In a business like a grocery store, if a store manager hires and puts someone in charge of his produce department, aside from that produce manager violating or working in opposition to specifically stated rules or guidelines from the larger company, the store manager should allow that produce manager to exercise creative control over their department and not step in and question every decision.
5. In a church, if either the pastor or a church member wants to step out and start a new ministry, it is vitally important for the pastor to allow this church member to use their talents, and creativity to grow that ministry within the confines of God's will to be sure but they need to be able to grow it after the design of their creative control. This concept extends to the ministry itself for there can be multiple levels to this.
For instance, if the leader of the ministry designates someone under their oversight to take charge over a certain area of that ministry then they would need to allow them to exercise the same creative control within the direction setting decisions made by the leader over the total ministry just like the pastor does for the entire church.
An example of this would be if there were a financial element to a ministry, a ministry leader may have someone to handle the financial elements of that ministry for them. If they constantly step in and micro-manage that element of the ministry then why even have the leader put in charge of the financials in the first place?
I think that what you see when you read the above general examples is that the errors of micro-managing become clear. Nobody wants to be constantly micro-managed and if you are going to as a leader micro-manage someone you have put in charge or a particular area, why even have them, to begin with?
Finally, the biggest take away from this concept of "The Power of Creative Control," is that it is a truly biblical model. We are called to go out into the world and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). Making disciples in the strictest biblical sense is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. However, if you borrow the term and bring it over into a leadership structure, that is what one is doing when they grant the "Power of Creative Control." They are training up, developing, and then empowering people who come under their influence to then go out and lead and make disciples of their own. After all, a basic definition of a disciple is a student or follower of someone else and any teacher will tell you that the ultimate goal is to get their students to the point that they can act independently of their teacher.
The goal is to engage in duplication leadership. I as a leader want to duplicate myself in other people and have them come to find their own personal success as leaders themselves. In this process of duplicating myself in others, there will be many themes and certain philosophies of decision making that will be very similar in both me and those who come after me. However, exact duplication is not the goal and quite frankly it can't be achieved no matter how hard you try. This is the ultimate goal of the micro-manager. Not duplication through discipleship but exact duplication through forced attempted cloning of one's self. This ultimately begs the question that I have already proposed, "Why even have students, followers, or disciples of yourself if you are just going to insist on having everything done exactly the way you would do it anyway? Why not just do it yourself at that point?"
The reason nobody does attempt to do it all by themselves is that we all instinctively know that it is impossible and yet we try to have our cake and eat it too. The problem is if you attempt to micro-manage and force exact duplication of yourself then you will find yourself all by yourself. In business, you will have trouble retaining quality workers and leaders. In church, you will lose qualified and God-honoring volunteers. The micro-managing model of leadership just does not have any lasting success. However, the "Power of Creative Control" does have lasting success because it creates a true duplication of successful leadership.
The Power of Creative Control allows people to choose the paintbrush, choose the color, and paint their own masterpiece. If you want your name to go on every masterpiece, then paint everything yourself.
Here is the bottom line between a micro-manager and those who grant the "Power of Creative Control":
A micro-manager wants every painting to be painted just like they would paint it without exception so they inevitably never create any new painters, and their lasting success and legacy will always be limited to what they can literally paint themselves.
Someone who grants the "Power of Creative Control" creates many new painters. Painters who will learn under your leadership and encouragement to choose their own paintbrush, choose their own color, and paint their own masterpieces. This type of discipleship leadership has lasting success and creates a legacy of many qualified painters who will go on to paint an untold number of masterpieces.