How to Raise Intrapreneurs When You Are The Control Freak Micro Managing Boss.

08/07/2016 09:12 pm ET

This is part 2 of the control freak boss articles. Part 1 can be found here:

In the last article we talked about intrapreneurs who suffer from control freak bosses and in this one I talk to you- the control freak boss.

Raising intrapreneurs is secondary; you need to zero in on yourself first and understand why you are such a control freak. This is not about your team members because the day you stop being a control freak, half the issues around the intrapreneurial culture will resolve themselves. 

You’ve heard the saying 

Be the change you want to see in the world? 

Well, how can you expect your team members to have an innovative and risk taking mindset when you as their boss lacks it?

There is a simple way to zero in on your control issues in the workplace and dig deeper into your psyche. Always feeling that you need to be in control is an outcome of some sort of internal fear that lurks in our minds. The fear of something bad happening, to avoid which, you always want to feel in control.

Underneath I discuss the 5 most possible outcomes that might happen if you lose control. Later, I discuss what to do in each situation that will help you reflect on your control issues and mindful reflection might provide you comfort in not being in control all the time by reverse engineering the situation.

What’s the worst that can happen if you don’t micro manage and control every activity.

#1 The project might fail and you might lose your job.

#2 The project could be waste of resources.

#3 You might have low self esteem and suffer from self blame. 

#4 The employees could go and do absolutely something different from what’s expected. 

#5 Your colleagues and bosses would mock your decision and give you a bad reputation. 

Do any of these fears feel familiar? I’m sure they do. 

Now let’s talk about what to do in each case:

#1 The project might fail and you might lose your job.


The reason why Startups have a fast paced innovative take on projects is because there may not be so much to lose, specially in the early stages. A corporate organization that has been standing for 50 years might have a lot more to lose; thousands of employees depending upon them for livelihood, thousands of investors’ faith and finances, brand reputation etc). 

Although working in a corporate environment you may have a lot to lose if you take risks by advancing intrapreneurial culture, you still need to take risks. 

No one wants to lose their hard earned job specially the ones for which they might have worked for years. But it’s a double edged sword. If you don’t take risks, innovate and be an advocate for intrapreneurs, don’t you run the risk of being fired anyways? 

In the wake of the Millennial generation, when lots of jobs require high digital skills, the kids are winning anyways. Failing to adapt to their autonomy preferring work style automatically puts you in danger. 

My advice: Sharpen your decision making skills. Take calculated risks and have an open mind. Here is a course in Effective Problem Solving and Decision Making that will come in handy. Enjoy! Also, if your sole focus is to not get fired and cover your behind but not see the company progress, you’re not doing a good job. 

#2 The project could be waste of resources 

Yes, risk is something very real. Even if you’re not just worried about losing your job, you may be worried about the precious resources that might go down the drain if the project turns out to be a blunder. 

I totally respect that. When I’m making potato fritters, I don’t just whip up all the ingredients together and throw them in hot oil; I make the batter and test one. I check it for salt and pepper, I check whether the oil temperature is appropriate and only when all goes well, I deep fry the rest.


Yummy fritters aside, I know when there’s a lot of resources invested in a project you wouldn’t want to wreck it. Have you heard of something called an MVP; a Minimum Viable Product?

Minimum Viable Products are early adaptations of new products or services that do not require intensive investment but are good enough to validate the idea by testing it out. Don’t fixate on the ‘product’ part of the MVP. It can be an idea or a service too.

If your team members are really intrapreneurial and often come up to you with new ideas, instead of simply rejecting them, you might want to consider creating MVPs or prototypes of the feasible ones. 

This way you can tackle the fear of losing out on huge investments and resources.

My advice: Watch the videos below and get familiar with the concept of creating MVPs. Train your team members so they can create low cost MVPs. And only the ones that get most validation for feasibility, usability and profitability might go further. Happy days!



#3 You might have low self esteem and suffer from self blame 

This might take you to your past. Having personal issues might be your problem that make you act like a total control freak. In fact, the feeling of not having control over something might trigger stress in you. To avoid that stress you always want to feel in control, hence it becomes a habit. 

My advice: I won’t go too long on this point; except that you should consider seeing a therapist. OCD or Obssessive Compulsive Disorder is a sort of mental condition that might be disturbing you at work. Seek professional help. And please don’t feel stigmatised about seeking mental help. It’s a lot common than you think. 

#4 The employees could go and do absolutely something different from what’s expected 

 If your fear is that allowing freedom to your team members would lead to useless projects, chaos, distraction from business goals... there’s a way to deal with that.

Call it a philosophy, best practice, managerial fad, technique or whatever you want, comapnies like Spotify call it ‘SQUADIFICATION’

It’s an Agile way of organizaing teams where team members have autonomy to decide the ‘how’ of the project while they align their work to achieve team goals. 

In the links below you can learn in depth how Squads work.



And if you would like to get training on creating and integrating squads in your organization, I’m speaking at the Intrapreneurship Conference in London on 22nd September 2016 about it. Join me there.



My advice: buy your ticket before they run out!

#5 Your colleagues and bosses would mock your decision and you have a bad reputation 

Hmmm, we all remember the High School popular kids gang who would mock or bully the rest. Unfortunately as we grow, it doesn’t get any better. There will always be people around who might look for that one mistake, that one mindless step that would put you in trouble and they would get pleasure out of it. 

Most people you grow up with are actually happy when you complain about life. And the moment you be happy, they wouldn’t want to hear you, they will call you annoying. That’s life. 

Therefore learn to see failure with an individual lens and not that of the world. It won’t cut as deep, but ony become a lesson.

Facebook is one of the worlds top best companies and Mark Zuckerberg, the founder, says that every summer unless someone does something to crash the whole website we don’t think we are learning. In fact, constantly trying new things and breaking rules is what he preaches



There are other organisations where the best failed projects are rewarded to recognise initiative. If your organization doesn’t have that open mindedness towards failure then there’s no way they can ever innovate and with the changing marketplace they will be like Kodak, Nokia or Blockbuster video... become history.

Either ways you’re going out of work.

So, there you go people, if you are a total control freak boss, I wish you well and hope the above advice helped you find ways to become intrapreneurial. If you are curious, please feel free to join me at the Intrapreneurship Conference 2016 in London.


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