If you're an entrepreneur, odds are you can be a bit of a control freak. Ok, maybe more than just a bit. The mere fact that you chose to go into business for yourself indicates that you want to be in control. I don't mean this as an insult. In fact, you ought to embrace many of your freakishly controlling tendencies. There are positive aspects to a controlling behavior style, as long as you can recognize and let go of things that are beyond your control.

In my experience of working with countless entrepreneurs, I have seen the many benefits of being a control freak. I also see how it contributes to failure. To be effective and successful, a leader must differentiate between the strengths and the damaging aspects of a controlling personality. Here's my take:

The positive traits of a control freak.

  • You don't sit around waiting for results; you make them happen.
  • You don't rely on luck or coincidences to achieve an outcome.
  • Control freaks will do whatever it takes to meet a deadline.
  • You don't listen to naysayers. If there's a way to make it happen, you will.
  • When you have an idea, you act upon it rather than sit around dreaming about it.
  • You can juggle many batons, even when there are too many.
  • Your team and clients can count on you, knowing that you won't let anything fall through the cracks.
  • When you can't control a situation, you will turn your attention toward something you can control.

5 Control freak behaviors to avoid.

An obsessive need to control is based on fear. Studies show that feeling in control makes us feel safer. When life shows us that we can't control everything it can cause an anxious response so controlling tendencies may get stronger. Here's where I see overly controlling entrepreneurs do more harm than good when the control freak takes over.

1. The need to do it all.

Maybe your employees don't do things exactly as you would, but it doesn't mean they are doing it all wrong. There is more than one way to approach just about any task or goal. For every non-entrepreneurial task you take on you are missing opportunities to grow your company.

Take the time to train your employees and delegate to them, even though you find it frustrating and time-consuming. The time you devote to training will come back to you ten-fold.

2. Obsessive worrying.

Being prepared for just about anything is good, catastrophizing and assuming the worse possible outcome is not. Fear and other negative feelings can trigger the brain to blow things out of proportion.

When your thoughts stress you out, stop and ask yourself how probable it is that the worse will happen. Typically, odds are slim. Redirect your thoughts to things that are within your control. Take a break and go for a run.

3. Unwillingness to compromise.

It's your way or the highway. Observe how often your stubbornness prevents you from listening to and seriously considering someone else's ideas and viewpoints. My clients often admit that they are glad they acted upon an employee's or partner's suggestion.

When someone suggests a new or different approach, don't respond right away. Do what you do best and take time to seriously analyze and consider the idea first. Take a chance on your employees, they will take on more ownership when you do.

4. Workaholism.

Since you insist on having your hand in everything, you work practically 24/7. Many of the entrepreneurs who become my clients fit this profile. As such, they are highly ineffective until they learn a new way.

If you work long hours and rarely take a weekend off, you're doing something wrong. When you learn to delegate, identify your priorities, gain clarity in direction, and trust others you will see profits soar.

5. Neglecting healthy habits.

This one doesn't apply to everyone who has a tendency to control. Many realize that exercise is one way to remain focused and sane since it is an extraordinary stress reliever. Others tend to let exercise and other healthy habits fall to the wayside, which adds to their need for even more control. You do have the time to take care of yourself, you are just not making yourself a priority.

I'm sure I haven't covered the full gamut of pros and cons here. What would you add to either list?