Micro-management, the excessive focus on details, is practically the antonym of leadership.  By practicing this management style its adepts contradict many defining traits of leadership: respect, trust, priority, value, delegation, bird’s eye view and many more.  These traits are included in the company’s values, in the manager’s job description or his/her performance criteria.

A paradox: even if quickly and correctly identified by the people surrounding or reporting to a micromanager, the micro-style is strongly and emotionally rejected by the manager himself.  Why is that?  In my opinion accepting the micromanager label would implicitly lead to admitting deficiencies in abilities or competencies that are mandatory and specific for management.

Here is my reasoning:

If details form the only zone of comfort and authority for the manager, then his competence is not enough and the value he/she should bring to the company is below expectations.  The manager must solve issues that can be addressed only by those having access to the big picture of corporate strategy or policy.

If attention to details is constantly justified by the unsatisfying abilities of subordinates, then the manager avoids from getting involved and responsible, as he should, in improving the individual and team performance he supervises.

By focusing on details, the manager places himself in the role of competitor for his subordinates at the level of competencies and abilities required from them.  His own career path will be questioned because up there the telescope works infinitely better than the microscope.  Thus the manager fails in his attempt to prove better and more valuable than the people he manages.  Regardless of his poise, authority, height of office armchair or belief in the final result that keeps being delayed.

As for the micro-managers’ subordinates they can always expect critiques that are in fact insignificant for their future, a permanent cut of their actual responsibilities and, on the long run, their own aspirations may become smaller as their self belief in what they may someday achieve is melting drop by drop.