Why Startup Leaders Fail: Micromanagement

True leadership is building a house without swinging a hammer

Joe Procopio


image by master1305

Micromanagement is a dirty word.

It evokes the image of a grumpy, old, bespectacled and besuited bureaucrat standing over your shoulder, judging everything you do and waiting for the right moment to apply just a little more un-constructive criticism.

So why do most startup leaders micromanage their teams?

  • First reason, because management is more art than science. And most budding artists will stick to tight brush strokes and rigid, straight lines.
  • Second, most startup leaders just don’t know any better. This is not their fault. Most of us begin our careers being managed by people who should never be allowed to manage other people.
  • Third, they desperately want to be seen as a leader. And the easiest way to be seen as a leader is to be seen. A lot. Like, all the time.

Finally, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with their micromanaging, they’re just micromanaging the wrong things.

How Micromanagement Starts

Last week, I hopped on a call with a founder whom I’ll call “Chet,” because I think that’s a funny name.

Well, also to keep his identity a secret, because his story straight-up sucks.

The first thing that struck me about Chet — and the reason I took the call — is that he was super smart. Furthermore, he had already been successful with a startup, having turned a side hustle into a real multi-million dollar business, almost entirely on his own.

Now that the business had grown way beyond his means to run it by himself, he had hired in a number of leaders and managers to get a handle on the growth and keep it going. He also had a couple ideas for new businesses, and wanted to turn his windfall into the capital he needed to push at least one of those ideas into reality.

I was really impressed with Chet. Not only did he blind-feel his way to success, he had the sense to avoid resting on that success, and instead was building a growth foundation under one cycle while he explored the next cycle.



Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com