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Micromangement is an effective leadership principle

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Started: 1/14/2016 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 8 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 621 times Debate No: 77414
Debate Rounds (4)
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"If you want something done right, do it yourself." - Napoleon Bonaparte

Micromanagement (as a general rule) is an effective managing style for government and business leaders. Con will argue the opposite.

Micromanagement - a managing style whereby a manager/leader closely observes or controls the work of subordinates or employees.

Effectiveness - The degree to which objectives are achieved and the extent to which targeted problems are solved. In contrast to efficiency, effectiveness is determined without reference to costs and, whereas efficiency means "doing the thing right," effectiveness means "doing the right thing." [1]

  • The effectiveness of the new software was pleasing to the whole team as it was a joy to use by all.


This challenge goes to sengejuri (let me know if you need any changes).

3)counter arguments / rebuttals
4)rebuttals / conclusions


I accept. Good luck!
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks, Con.

To begin, there is a common misconception in the government and business worlds, which is that micromanagers by definition are bad.

According to wikipedia (a source for layman terms) micromanagers are "workplace bullys" and "narcissistic individuals" who not only tell subordinates what to do but also dictate to them that a job be done in a certain way [1]. Micromanagers often require constant and deliberate performance updates on behalf of employees whereas they themselves are either directly involved in doing the employee's work or excessively monitoring it for perfectionist details [1]. Most employees and leadership schools again, tend to see micromanagement as a bad practice for leading people.

Truth be told however, micromanagement is not so much an effective solution for making subordinates feel good as it is for ensuring that a complex labor system of processes, products, marketing, negotiating, financing, and final assembly produces results, even in times of hardship or general incompetence.

Here are the reasons why it actually pays to be a micromanager in a systems world:

Ensuring Workplace Competence & Accuracy

CEOs, middle managers, and department heads who are directly involved in a subordinates work have greater ability to ensure that performance standards are met, even when that employee or the company itself is incompetent. Micromanagers tend to be subject-matter experts who bring passion, attention to detail, managerial power, experience, and intimate knowledge of the business to the work at hand. When a micromanager steps in to do or control operations, the leadership gap between workers' execution and corporate vision is eliminated. The company is thus ensured that work is being done by its most capable and powerful hands (the leader & surgeon general himself) according to leadership expectations.

Superior Problem Solving

Micromanagement, when strategically applied, is superior to delegating when it comes to solving problems. For the same reasons listed above, a leader directly observing work can better obtain tools and implement creative solutions immediately needed to solve problems. Comparatively, a subordinate cannot call on the same level of resources or make the same decisions that a corporate executive can. And unlike times when a leader is removed from the action, a micromanager is able to receive immediate updates and closely monitor the progress of a solution by involving themselves deep within the work. When a micromanager is on station, solving a problem is guaranteed to get first priority and nothing is left to trust.

Greater Workplace Efficiency & Competitive Advantages

A final criticism you might here about micromanagement is that micromanagers are inherently ineffective because a micromanager cannot possible be in two places at once. Micromanagement is also claimed to be inefficient because it stifles employee creativity by disallowing any dissent or deviation from company standards. Delegating then, is superior to micromanagement for the all important sake of gathering feedback needed to quickly implement workplace changes to an ever changing competitive business environment. On the contrary, bureaucracies are inefficient! And having many competing tiers of managers and layers upon layers of hierarchal social structure and procedures and professional distance is the biggest reason why low-level work goes unnoticed and decisions from the top don't get implemented. Micromanagers who are willing to deeply involved themselves in the work of the company and put themselves in the shoes of employees are far more capable then at learning the ins and outs of a business and implement effective procedural changes without needing to worry so much about bureaucracy. As general rule then, micromanagers are some of the most knowledgable and most efficient change agents there are.

That's all I have for now. Looking forward to R2.



The premise here is "Micromanagement is an Effective Leadership Principle." Since, in this debate, effective is defined as "doing the right thing," the question we are asking can be portrayed as "are micromanagers doing the right thing?" I say no.

For my opening argument, I will contrast micromanagers with managers and seek to uphold the merits of the latter. Using our agreed definitions, I will compare leaders who closely observe and control the work of subordinates (micromanagers) to leaders who do not closely observe or control it (managers).

Three principle reasons expose why micromanagement is not doing the right thing:

1) Micromanagement is inefficient - By its very definition, micromanagement means inefficiency. If a manager is closely controlling the work of a subordinate, it has the effect of two people doing the same job. As an example, imagine my two hands typing this sentence on the keyboard. Imagine that my left hand is a micromanager obsessed with typing the letters "k" and "o." Every time I needed to use one of these letters, the left hand crossed over and punched the key rather than simply letting the right hand take care of it. This would make typing much slower. This same scenario plays out in businesses across the world in the form of excessive meetings, reports, updates, and checks. The destructive nature of this activity is twofold. First, it prevents subordinates from fully accomplishing their assigned tasks (the right hand cannot type a "k" or "o" without interference from the left). Second, the manager is no longer able to fully focus on their tasks, because they are busy controlling the work of others (it takes longer for the left hand to return to the left side of the keyboard after typing an "o"). As the Harvard Business Review observes: "The problem with micromanagers is that they apply the same level of intensity, scrutiny, and in-your-face approach to every task, whether warranted or not." [1] This is the very definition of inefficiency - wasting intensity and effort on unnecessary things.

2. Micromanagement demoralizes people - When a micromanager closely controls your work, it appears like they don't trust you. It is patronizing, and it demoralizes the workforce. A micromanager makes the organization dependent on them - they must personally check the work and ensure its quality. According to Jim Collins, the renowned business strategist and author of "Good to Great," this behavior is incredibly destructive. His research confirms that CEOs who insist on personal control often see their companies crumble after their retirement because the organization became so dependent on their singular supervision [2]. The Harvard Business Review confirms: " You create an organizational vulnerability when your team isn"t used to functioning without your presence and heavy involvement." [3] I have personally experienced this many times in the military. I once had a Brigade Commander attach himself to a patrol I was in charge of, whereby he immediately took my vehicle seat and radio and began directly communicating with my platoon. I found myself thinking "if he doesn't trust me enough to lead this patrol, then why am I even here?" It was extremely demoralizing and made me lose credibility with the Soldiers I was supposed to be in charge of. It stifled the motivation I had for excelling at a task I was legitimately passionate about, and the same thing happens every time a micromanager steps in to "save the day."

3. Micromanagement makes it harder to see the big picture - Managers differ from workers by thinking strategically. Managers are supposed to focus on the big picture and guide the efforts of their workers towards it. Yet, when a manager dives into the micro level, they cannot do this as well. By closely controlling lower level work, micromanagers get bombarded with details and it becomes difficult to understand what is relevant and what is not. This can lead to confusion and distraction, which often transcends in strategic mistakes. When micromanagers try to focus excessively on details, they require ever more input to make sense of them. This destroys the productivity of subordinates. As business researcher Yves Morieux puts it, "the more complicated the organization, the more difficult it is to understand what is really happening. So we need summaries, proxies, reports, key performance indicators, metrics. . . people spend their time in meetings, writing reports they have to do, undo, and redo. . . teams in these organizations spend between 40 and 80 percent of their time wasting their time." [4] The vital role a manager fills is thinking strategically and keeping the big picture in focus. A micromanager by definition must surrender this focus, and therefore risks losing their strategic vision.

For these reasons, micromanagement is not doing the right thing. Micromanagement is not effective.

[2] Collins, Jim. "Good to Great" Ch. 1
Debate Round No. 2


I think its important for us to remember here that "doing the right thing" means getting results. Our agreed definition of an effective leader therefore, does not necessarily include being well-liked by subordinates.

Steve Jobs for instance was an "in your face" control-freak and micro-dictator who hovered over his Apple design teams with an iron-fist, and yet -despite pushing people to perfectionist standards - was still able to get results.(1) Walt Disney, another famous control-freak, is said to have obsessed about "every detail" of "every ride" at "every one" of his Disney World theme parks.(2) And John D. Rockefeller, along with the great Andrew Carnegie, were both obsessive micromanagers who prioritized visiting and attending the needs of individual factories above their own families ()(). Micromanaging of course did not make Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, John D. Rockefeller, or Mr. Carnegie very popular with employees, but the lasting results of their attention to detail and uncompromising standards for perfection speaks for itself. Micromanagers get results.


1) Micromanagement is inefficient

"If a manager is closely controlling the work of a subordinate, it has the effect of two people doing the same job."

This perspective is mostly incorrect. If a manager is vastly more experienced and vastly more competent than a subordinate, we can believe that taking on the job of said subordinate has effect of the job 'getting done.' Micromanagement therefore, along with getting things right the first time, is vastly more efficient than trying to correct for errors and work related inefficiencies on behalf of a less capable subordinate.

"As an example, imagine my two hands typing this sentence on the keyboard."

The metaphor of using two hands to type on a keyboard generally does not relate well to management in a complex systems world of people, processes, products, marketing, negotiating, financing, and high-tech assembly. However, if it did, then as the popular saying goes; its far more effective for the Left Hand to always know what the Right Hand is doing. This quote of course, is a metaphor for organizational inefficiencies that can be expected when different members of the same organization are allowed to pursue different goals. With micromanagement emplace, a manager is therefore better able to synchronize the work of subordinates to actual leadership goals by purposefully controlling their work.

"the manager is no longer able to fully focus on their tasks, because they are busy controlling the work of others"

If the ultimate role of a manager is to get things done and accomplish an objective, I fail to see how this is an inefficient use of their time.

"The problem with micromanagers is that they apply the same level of intensity, scrutiny, and in-your-face approach to every task, whether warranted or not." [1] This is the very definition of inefficiency - wasting intensity and effort on unnecessary things."

Applying the same level of intensity, energy, enthusiasm, attitude, and standards of excellence to every single work related task is the hallmark of a true leader. I would love to be led would by a manger who committed himself to a standard of excellence in everything he did - trivial or not. Con's quote then is a definition of leadership excellence and not of inefficiencies.

2. Micromanagement demoralizes people

"When a micromanager closely controls your work, it appears like they don't trust you."

When a micromanager closely controls your work, it means he cares about the work and the well-being of the whole organization. A hands-off leader who lets the business fail for the sake of not stepping on people's toes will demoralize employees far more than a micromanager ever will when everybody loses their jobs because the business is folding.

"-they must personally check the work and ensure its quality."

A company and its customers can take greater pride then in having produced and received a superior product. Steve Jobs and the Apple IPhones and IPads are my chosen examples.

"I have personally experienced this (micromanagement) many times in the military."

As always, I'm very grateful for Con's military service. However, one of the most outstanding leadership expectations of a modern military officer -whom I have had some opportunities to interview and shadow- is that duty must come before relationships. A commander whom attaches himself to the personal execution of a mission, and abandon's his family and friends in the process to deploy overseas, does so because the military mission is so vitally important that it must be done and must be done right. In missions and operations where the security of the country is at stake (along with soldier's lives), the United States Armed Forces cannot afford to not complete its mission.

3. Micromanagement makes it harder to see the big picture -

"Managers are supposed to focus on the big picture and guide the efforts of their workers towards it. Yet, when a manager dives into the micro level, they cannot do this as well."

We can believe Con's leadership analysis above is incorrect because as a supervisor deeply involves himself in the everyday operations and smaller details of a company, he in fact learns more about the company. By learning more about the company and products, in addition to removing the gap between leadership vision and worker execution which comes from intense personal involvement- micromanagers are able to make more strategic and more intelligent policy decisions. Very quickly then, Henry Ford is my chosen example. Henry Ford of course, immersed himself in the analysis of the very smallest, tiniest work-related details of car manufacturing from beginning to end where he found out the most efficient (and cost effective) ways of during things ( As a result of his micromanagement and obsession for minute details, Henry Ford is credited with perfecting the Assembly Line, the modern pinnacle of workplace efficiency.

"This (micromangment) destroys the productivity of subordinates."

I disagree. However, even if true, an absence of productivity on behalf of subordinates does not mean a lack of results on behalf of a organization if it is still able to accomplish mission objectives. Micromanagement is also a solution to employee incompetence, a leadership means of still getting results when subordinates don't produce.


Micromanagement improves productivity of subordinates.

A micromanager improves the productivity of subordinates by deeply involving themselves within workers' work where he can teach workers core-competencies. Core-competencies are defined as "a unique ability that a company acquires from its founders or develops and that cannot be easily imitated. Core competencies are what give a company one or more competitive advantages, in creating and delivering value to its customers in its chosen field." ( Core-competencies of course, is a fancy way for describing the best way of doing things, which is most oftened learned by imitating and observing people of competency and experience.

In addition to the above, micromanagers bring managerial power to frontline work and can force uncooperative workers to take on work that they otherwise might not do. Micromangment also bridges the gap between top-level vision and low-level execution often found in slow moving buercracys




sengejuri forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Please do not score this debate.

This debate is being continued here:;
Debate Round No. 4
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Blade-of-Truth 8 months ago
Just a heads up, I only left the null vote because I'm currently running through unvoted debates - needed to clear this one out of the system.
Posted by Jingle_Bombs 8 months ago
New debate can be found here:

The other link was bad for some reason.
Posted by sengejuri 8 months ago
Lets start over. I will copy paste everything to this point
Posted by Jingle_Bombs 9 months ago
No big deal. I can FF my round to make it even or we can start over. Let me know what works!
Posted by sengejuri 9 months ago
Posted by sengejuri 9 months ago
Sorry, i got really busy this weekend and couldn't write. I can just concede, or we can start over and copy/paste our arguments up to this point in a mew debate
Posted by Jingle_Bombs 9 months ago
I've added a definition. Let me know if it works.
Posted by sengejuri 9 months ago
If you can offer a definition of "effective" then I will accept.
Posted by Verita 1 year ago
I accept
Posted by salam.morcos 1 year ago
I'm 3rd in line, but I am interested. It took me years to get out of micromanagement.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by kkjnay 8 months ago
Who won the debate:--
Reasons for voting decision: Participants agreed to start a new debate.
Vote Placed by Blade-of-Truth 8 months ago
Who won the debate:--
Reasons for voting decision: Null Vote as requested by participants.