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“My manager, co-worker, partner, friend, brother……. told me I was controlling!”

Never met a woman who hasn’t been called controlling at least once in her life. For many of us, it’s a monthly event. (I confess that for me it’s a weekly thing).

Rarely does it not affect us.

Often we simply shake our heads in disbelief, knowing that were we men exhibiting the identical behavior, we’d be told we were ‘powerful’, ‘in charge’, a ‘true leader’.

Unfair? TOO. BAD. For now.

If you think I’m making this up or waving the gender card, you can stop reading now because that’s not what this is about, and this blog isn’t for you.

My intention for writing about this cringe-worthy subject is so that women who are truly committed to cultivating their leadership skills and having a positive impact, can learn to distinguish between the power of control and the disempowerment of being controlling. And to adjust both their reaction to and their use of, both words.

People spit out, “She’s so controlling” with the same venom as “She’s a feminist.” Disgust. Contempt. A “Well that explains everything” kind of air. Think ‘affluenza’.

The problem lies not only with those who use the word

but, equally, with our listening to it.

Our current culture allows people to say whatever they want and, if they say it with sufficient vigor, their audience assumes it’s the truth. Case in point: political debates and someone calling you controlling.

That is a flawed assumption. But, of course, you knew that.

People can call you whatever they want. You don’t have to listen. You don’t have to believe them. You don’t have to react.

Here’s the distinction:

When we are controlling we exert our power over others for the primary purpose of getting them to do our bidding. This disempowers you (not them).

When we are in control, we are using our power for the sole purpose of creating our personal and professional lives in alignment with our greatest vision of ourselves. This empowers you, and the people for whom you’re a role model in support of, and for, ourselves.

You do, however, owe it to yourself to do an internal check

to discover if there's something for you to see.

Were you controlling?

  1. Did you want everything to go your way, for whatever reason you might have made up?

  2. Did you feel empowered?

  3. Do you now cringe thinking about it?

  4. What was the experience for the people around you? The ones you’re committed to developing?

Were you in control?

  1. Did you speak your truth in a way that people could hear you?

  2. Did you identify a goal and strategize a way to achieve it that would benefit all concerned? (Note: ‘all concerned’ may not yet see it that way).

  3. Did you take action in a way that empowered you and everyone touched by the project/idea? (Note: ‘everyone’ may not yet see it that way).

  4. What was the experience for the people around you? The ones you’re committed to developing?

SUMMARY: If you’re leaving bodies wherever you go, there’s a high likelihood that you’re controlling. If, on the other hand, others leave you feeling empowered and impactful, (despite perhaps feeling ruffled and shook up) then you have been in control). Congratulations!

PLEASE SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS in the comments below.

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Are you ready to make a change? Are you willing to put aside and work through your obstacles to reach your potential? Then schedule a 15-minute complimentary call with Nancy on our calendar.

Nancy D. Solomon, MA Psych is the CEO and Founder of The Leadership Incubator where she helps leaders identify, address and resolve people problems before they become profit problems so everyone can focus on what they were hired to do-- INNOVATE AND DRIVE GROWTH.

Known as The Impact Expert, she is a main stage speaker, expert trainer and veteran coach who helps leaders solve key issues related to leadership development, employee engagement, and advancing women.

Nancy has made a difference for such companies as Microsoft, Target, Acura, Westin, Nordstrom & ADP as well as with many passionate individuals.

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