Your Control Freak Solution: Build Trust With Your Team!

Have you earned the label “Control Freak”? There are more than a few ways you can be sure, and they’re staring right at you in the workplace. I’m referring to your colleagues, who bear witness each time you dominate a project, shut down their ideas, stand in judgment, and ruminate on tiny details instead of seeing the bigger picture. In my recent article Are You A Control Freak and Why Does It Matter?, I devised for you a nifty handbook of sorts for diagnosing the control freak who may lurk within, with the mission statement of “dare to change” at its core, and the Growth Mindset as your guide. I hope I’ve inspired you to stretch beyond your comfort zone, employ empathy, and to begin trusting your colleagues on a whole new level.

As promised, I’d like to turn to some realistic and effective solutions to help you release control, thereby re-leasing your career through redefining your relationship with your team. The goal is to close down those competitive, paranoid tendencies and open up the communication channels between you and your colleagues in unique ways— some of which might surprise you, but all of which are designed to promote the harmony of co-creation.

As a restaurant owner many moons ago, my philosophy was, “If I control what’s controllable, I can more easily manage what’s uncontrollable.” If I hadn’t operated that way, either the restaurant or I would have come to an abrupt demise. Apply it this way: You might not be able to control a specific event, but you can control your response and/or reaction to the event. You must build strong inner systems with which to approach a task, a project, or even an entire career. And part of each system is a trusting relationship with your colleagues. This takes not only effort and empathy, but strategy. Let’s look at a few.

Achieving A Clear Vision

Trust and communication are indispensable for the release of control. If you have faith in your wisdom, in your experience and in your good judgment, then trust will come more naturally.

Next, employ that trust to form a clearly designed and articulated goal with your team. Often, we sense that we don’t have enough time or patience to fully communicate our visions and aspirations for a task or a project. But as you engage with your team with intentionality and a sense of purpose, your confidence will build as you see the project moving in the right direction.

Finally, check back with your team often to share and reinforce the vision. You’ll get a sense of others’ judgments instead of assuming you know what page they’re on. It’s called double-clicking, and it cracks open the conversation in a way that better illustrates what each person intends to communicate.

Take it a step further by yielding much of your control to the team, using management guru Kevin Kelly’s technique of being “in command, and out of control”. On page 118 of Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink, he outlines Kelly’s approach, concluding with the passage, “Allowing people to operate without having to constantly explain themselves turns out to be like the rule of agreement in improv. It enables rapid cognition.” Learn more about this approach on

Ground Yourself

In tackling a career in business, messy is impossible to avoid. The trick is to get comfortable with messy through better perspective. It will require plenty of deep breaths at appropriate moments, and the ability to zoom out for a broader glance at the big picture. Often, looking back is the best way to see into the future!

When I feel personally overwhelmed and out of control, I find it helpful to anchor into my core values. I separate myself from emotions, at which point I can lean into those very emotions. I acknowledge, for instance, that it’s not that I’m frustrated, but that I’m feeling frustration. I’m not angry, but I’m experiencing anger. These observations cause a neurochemical change in mindset whereby I can accept the emotions for what they are, preparing them for release!

Be Vulnerable With Your Team

When you’ve released control, you’ve also let go of the wheel when it comes to team projects. This is a liberating position to be in, but you’ll need to get creative to keep your team engaged and prevent your own overwhelm going forward. Here are some solid places to begin:

-Start to see the project as a co-creation and a learning process, and you can avoid the temptation to resume control.

-Asking instead of telling is a magical technique to keep your team focused. It’s the “pull, don’t push” approach whereby you’re pulling ideas from your teammates instead of pushing ideas upon them.

-Prioritize by clearly defining the deliverables, and then scrutinize by deciding which tasks only you can do.

-Delegate while providing a clear image of the deliverables. This is where a timeline comes in handy.

-Provide coaching feedback to your team. When they come back to you with a first attempt, ask the “whys” instead of telling them why a certain approach doesn’t work.

Up next is our Releasing Control Resources Article. Keep an eye open for the posting next week.

If you enjoy what you’re reading and are considering living life more fully, schedule a complimentary consultative session with DRIVEN HERE.