Leadership Perspective: Reverse Paradigms, Overfunctioning Versus Underfunctioning

Over-functioning is irresponsible responsibility. – Murray Bowen

OverfunctionWe, as leaders, influence everyone in our presence. The orchestra conductor influences how the instrumentalists play: just playing the notes, or playing with passion. The conductor does not tell the orchestra how to play their instruments or play those instruments for them.

Many leaders struggle with underfunctioning staff, boards, volunteers, etc., and are not aware that they have potentially caused that problem with their overfunctioning presence.

In the recent post, “The Drawbacks Of An Overfunctioning Leader,Geri Scazzero made these points about how overfunctioning causes problems:

1. Overfunctioning Disguises Itself As Caring

2. Overfunctioning Perpetuates Immaturity

3. Overfunctioning Prevents Me From Focusing On My Own Life Direction

4. Overfunctioning Erodes My Spiritual Life

5. Overfunctioning Destroys Community

Read the post HERE.

The unintentional role that leaders play in problems is elusive.

Here are ways that the Transformational Leader creates balance and prevents overfunctioning:

  1. Define what to delegate: Trying to do it all is the first trap for leaders. We know how it’s supposed to work, therefore, we attempt to model by doing it rather that teaching others how to do whatever “it” is. Define your major skills and your gaps and find the most competent person to fill the gap. Define the end result clearly and then create a process to coach that person into higher functioning.
  2. Learn to delegate: It’s easy to say, “delegate more,” however, learning how delegation works is a challenge for many leaders. Define the end result, allow the other person to define the steps with your approval, and create touch points on a regular basis to make corrections and to mentor – this is not micromanaging!
  3. Do not micromanage: Micromanagement is a form of overfunctioning. Don’t do it.
  4. Work on self: Learn to manage anxiety and learn to listen, observe, and ask good questions. Leaders who don’t know how to manage self fall into the habit of overfunctioning by over talking, over managing, and exerting too much pressure where it’s not warranted.

Autocratic leadership is a form of overfunctioning. Please give me your comments below.


Hugh Ballou

The Transformational Leadership Strategist TM

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