CEOs, don't micro manage

Many CEOs micro manage. They like to "pull up the roots to check whether the tree is healthy, not realizing that this action may kill the tree".

I have spoken to many CEO and their reasons for micro-managing are that:

  1. CEOs like to keep themselves well-informed of the company's daily operations;
  2. CEOs do not trust the staff sufficiently that they can do their assigned duties;
  3. CEOs cannot re-assigned or remove the under-performing staff, so he has ensure that
    they do their jobs;
  4. CEOs have under-skilled managers who cannot perform their duties;
  5. CEOs may only have the experience to supervise manual workers, but not manage educated executives;
  6. The organization culture is where everyone checks every one (that is, spy versus spy mentality);
  7. CEOs have too much time on their hands
  8. CEOs like to let everyone thinks that he is actively managing

The above are all good provided the CEO doesn’t "get in the way" of managers who are desperately trying to complete the assigned tasks. "Get in the way" can mean that:

  1. CEOs requests for too many meetings and actually may disrupt the workflow;
  2. CEOs gives too many instructions on the same subject and thus causing the managers to lose their focus.
  3. CEOs forgetting what they instrcuted previously and give conflicting instructions

So CEOs, please be make sure that you do not get in the way of smooth operations and "kill the tree by overchecking".

I also noticed that highly hands-on CEOs always check on Support (or non-business) units. The managers of these support units are fearful, because they are often under-funded but yet asked to achieve many results.

My view is that if all activities of support units should be outsourced or privatized, if possible. It can be difficult to measure the productivity of support units. Moreover there is usually much inefficiency that can occur in support units, purely because they are non-core business.

John Vong PhD


Dear John,

If the CEO does not check the roots, how will he know that the tree is healthy?

Dear Issaac, its a great question. Watch out for the next article that will reply directly to your question.........." CEOs, do not employed a guard dog, then do the barking yourself"

Dear Dr. John,

Really interested in your articles.
However, i cant find the article "CEOs, do not employed a guard dog, then do the barking yourself".
Could you or anyone help me out?
Thanks in advance.

Hi Minhta

Here is the weblink for the article:

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I very much agree with it. Micro managing is not healthy because when you do that you can't give them the right to decide and when they decide they stand by it. People needs to learn decision making and standing by it.

Maryann Farrugia
Sales, CEO & Managing Director