If you've ever worked for a micromanager, you know how awful and how it can be. Working with a leader, on the other hand, can be an inspiring and educational experience.

Micromanagers have a hard time trusting others to make decisions and rarely allow others to act independently, while true leaders are all about trust and autonomy.

Nobody likes to think of themselves as a micromanager, but if you have any question, ask yourself these questions:

1. Do you work weekends and long hours and rarely take vacation? This is often a sign of the inability or unwillingness to delegate or lose control. Micromanagers need to be constantly present, while leaders understand the need to integrate their professional and personal lives.

2. Does everything need your approval? Micromanagers don't want anything going in or out without their approval. Leaders trust their people to do what they do best and empower them to take action.

3. Do you have a hard time delegating? Micromanagers spend more time telling how to do the task than describing whatneeds to be accomplished. Leaders practice effective delegation, with guidance only when it's needed.

4. Do you think you're the only one who can do it right? The mantra of the micromanager is "If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself." They grab the work back at the first sign of trouble, or even redo what's already been done. Leaders give people opportunities to show what they can do, then express appreciation for the effort.

5. Do you have to be involved in every decision? Micromanagers require that decisions come through them or they may be reversed. Leaders consider all points of view and are decisive--and they encourage others on their team to do the same.

6. Do you need to be copied on everything? Micromanagers need to be in on every email thread and meeting summary. Leaders honor privacy and trust their employees to inform them of what they need to know.

7. Do you insist on sitting in on all meetings? Micromanagers want to be included in any meetings with executives, key clients or vendors, or anyone else worthy of their attention. Leaders respect their team members and trust that they will handle things appropriately.

8. Do you have to have everything done your way? Micromanagers always set very specific terms when they assign a task; they basically require that it be done exactly as they would do it themselves. Leaders know they can't do everything themselves, and they give team members room for their own ideas and work style.

9. Do you get bogged down with details? Micromanagers rarely have time for things like strategy, because they're too focused on the day-to-day details to get the big picture. Leaders know details are important, but they concentrate on building a team with a compelling vision, collaboration and an engaging culture.

10. Do you think you are smarter than most other people? Micromanagers secretly (or not so secretly) believe they're smarter, faster, and more skilled than the people who work for them. Leaders know that they probably don't have all the answers, but they surround themselves with talented people who can help figure it out.

11. Do you need to be in control? Micromanagers are constantly "just checking in." Leaders know that leadership is not about control or power but inspiration, empowerment, and supporting those on your team so they can be and do their best.

12. Do you require people to check in constantly? Micromanagers need to know where their employees are and what they are doing at each moment of the work day. They track their cell phones, their contacts, and their personal information so they can reach them anytime they're needed. Leaders show professional respect and understand that everyone needs some down time.

13. Do you double check everyone's work? Micromanagers are constantly going behind everyone to check and make changes, even if there's nothing wrong. Leaders may check in at critical points in a process, but they have confidence in their people to do their job well.

14. Do you have to be included in all correspondence? Micromanagers insist that employees copy or blind copy them on all "important" emails--and of course everything is important. Leaders know the difference between vital information and daily trivia.

15. Do you meet before meetings? Micromanagers often hold meetings before meetings to make sure employees are prepared, and meetings after the meetings to make sure things happened as planned. Leaders help people with appropriate preparation. They create an agenda and structure meetings in a way that ensures vital points are addressed.

16. Do you have a lot of turnover? Micromanagers create a toxic work environment that inhibits creativity and autonomy. Most people will only tolerate such negativity for a short time before leaving for the next thing that comes along. Leaders understand the importance of creating an engaging and empowering culture that allows people to showcase their talents. They invest time and care in their people, and team members leave only to follow new professional opportunities.

17. Do you find you are doing everything yourself? Micromanagers complain that their employees never take any initiative or come up with new ideas--and for them this confirms that they're the only one qualified to do the work. Leaders take pride in knowing how to delegate, coach, mentor and support others in taking initiative.

So which is it? Are you a micromanager or a leader? Even if you're less than happy with your answer, the good news is that it's never too late to change.

Published on: May 27, 2016