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Obama and micromanagement: Does it work?

Posting in Government

Is President Barack Obama a micromanager? The Wall Street Journal has an interesting take on Obama's management style and asks a question that vexes e...

Is President Barack Obama a micromanager?

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting take on Obama's management style and asks a question that vexes every manager and executive on the planet: How much detail is enough?

The Journal goes into great detail about how Obama gets into the weeds on economic matters. Minutiae about credit and the interplay with risk, consumer debt and derivative regulation are all at play.

However, Obama is like every other manager. Some things get the micromanagement treatment and other topics don't. Take health care for instance. Obama may know every little nuance of health care, but has allowed Congress to run off with various incomprehensible bills. Wouldn't a micromanager at least provide a list of things that are off limits or just plain stupid? Is that micromanagement or leadership?

You can talk this topic in circles pretty easily. Whether micromanagement works or not isn't known until it's too late. Should a CEO know every nuance of his company? The answer: It depends.

Want more evidence that micromanagement is a murky topic? Check out our sister site BNET. The site has a topic page just focused on micromanagement. Some of it reads like a therapy session. Consider:

The general theme is that micromanagement isn't good overall, but it can be useful from time to time. We don't know how Obama will turn out, but he may want to be wary of the micromanagement definition.

Micromanagement: a style of management where a manager becomes over-involved in the details of the work of subordinates, resulting in the manager making every decision in an organization, no matter how trivial. Micromanagement is a euphemism for meddling, and has the opposite effect to empowerment. Micromanagement can retard the progress of organizational development, as it robs employees of their self-respect.

To sum it up and micromanagement is a bad thing, but you sometimes have to partake in it. Experiment a lot like Obama and don't kill the confidence of your employees. Confused? Me too.

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Larry Dignan

Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief Larry Dignan is editor-in-chief of SmartPlanet and ZDNet. He is also editorial director of TechRepublic. Previously, he was an editor at eWeek, Baseline and CNET News. He has written for WallStreetWeek.com, Inter@ctive Week, New York Times and Financial Planning. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Delaware. He is based in New York but resides in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure