Mark Cuban says this common leadership style is a toxic trait: ‘Trust the process or fix what’s broken’

For the most part, Mark Cuban is firmly anti-micromanaging.

The 65-year-old billionaire entrepreneur weighed in on the common leadership style in a recent post on social media network X. If you find yourself constantly micromanaging the people around you, something’s wrong, Cuban noted.

The only exception, he added: When you’re early in a process — think building a brand-new startup or training a new employee —  sweating every small detail can help.

“Micromanage early. Trust the process or fix what’s broken if you always have to micromanage,” Cuban wrote in his March 11 post.

Cuban’s post was a response to a thread about counterintuitive leadership principles written by Ofek Lavian, CEO of financial tech company Forage. In that thread, Lavian referenced a 20VC podcast episode from last year featuring Shopify CEO and co-founder Tobi Lütke, who embraced micromanaging.

“There is probably no singular idea that has destroyed more business value on planet earth than the idea that micromanagement is bad,” Lütke said. It’s a part of “being responsible for everyone,” and it can help supervisors mitigate mistakes before they happen, he added.

But while micromanaging may ease a boss’ peace of mind, it can contribute to a toxic work environment.

Seventy-three percent of workers consider micromanagement to be the biggest workplace red flag, saying it contributes to negative and anxious feelings, according to an August 2023 survey from job platform Monster. Forty-six percent said they’d leave their job because of it.

Cuban’s micromanaging past

Cuban’s stance on micromanaging comes from personal experience.

In the 1990s, Cuban co-owned an internet streaming platform called There, he expected his employees to mirror his own work ethic, and he wasn’t the nicest boss in the process, he told the “Bio Eats World″ podcast last year.

“I wish somebody would have told me to be nicer,” said Cuban, when asked what advice he’d give his younger self. “Because I was always go, go, go … Ready, fire, aim. Let’s go. Let’s go faster, faster.”

Cuban’s hustle-forward outlook hurt the company’s early-stage morale and performance, he said: “Sometimes it took my [business] partner Todd [Wagner] telling me, ‘Look, you’re scaring some people, [and] they’re typically going to [quit] and you can’t get mad.'”

The company was ultimately acquired by Yahoo for $5.7 billion in stock in 1999, making Cuban a billionaire.

How to handle a micromanaging boss

If you’re stuck on how to handle your micromanaging boss, try to find a compromise with them, Monster career expert Vicki Salemi told CNBC Make It last year. If they’re constantly asking you what you’re working on, ask if they’d be open to weekly meetings to discuss your schedule, for example.

If that doesn’t work, or you aren’t comfortable discussing the situation directly with them, try asking a trusted colleague in HR for help.

“Outline some of your concerns and tell them, ‘I believe my boss is micromanaging me, and I’m hoping to alleviate that as I love working here. What do you recommend?'” Salemi said.

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