Written by Lily Martinez

The mere mention of a micromanager invokes anxiety. We’ve all encountered one in our careers, and their impact lingers. One instance stands out in my memory. I was assigned to create a new workforce service and was eager to meet with my team to devise a plan. However, before we could proceed, my manager bombarded us with detailed schedules, tasks, and deadlines. Despite my team’s competence, my manager insisted on reviewing every aspect of the work. This constant micromanagement stifled creativity, eroded trust, and left us all feeling frustrated and demotivated.

This well-meaning leader had good intentions, but the reality is that this style of leadership is detrimental to employees, teams, and leaders alike. It often arises from a lack of confidence or trust. To cultivate high-functioning, high-trust teams, a leader must strike the right balance between trusting in the team’s capabilities while ensuring the work gets done.

Here are three actionable steps to build a high-functioning, high-trust team everyone deserves:

Provide Expectations and Autonomy. Begin projects with a team meeting to set a shared vision for the ultimate objective. By providing clear expectations on the “what,” you can allow space for creativity and innovation on the “how” within the guardrails of an agreed-upon outcome.

Flip the Script. Instead of assigning deadlines, encourage your team to set their own by asking questions like, “What are the critical milestones in completing this project? When do you think each of these steps can be accomplished?” This approach fosters a sense of ownership and accountability and empowers the team to make decisions.

Use a Meeting Template. Utilize tools like the Brief Meeting Prep Card by Joseph McCormack to promote a culture of preparedness and open communication. This allows team members to ask questions, seek clarifications, and provide timely updates so everyone feels confident in the plan.

Creating high-functioning, high-trust teams is not an elusive goal. Rather, it’s a balancing act between respect and responsibility with clear communication at the core. By striking this balance, we can break free from the micromanagement trap and allow creativity to flourish.

Founded in 2004, Lead Star is the company behind New York Times best-sellers SPARKLeading from the Front, and Bet on You. Lead Star supports professionals to reach new levels of success through an innovative coaching program, Year to Rise.