Q: Having been promoted from manger to an executive role, I have been criticised for being too hands-on. I am a good and effective manager but stepping back seems counter-intuitive.

A: Well, you are going to get yourself into difficulties here, aren't you, with nearly everyone. The people who report to you will get terminally fed up with your tinkering and your bosses (shareholders?) will be frustrated that you have no time to shape the broader agenda for your business. Pretty much a recipe for disaster as well as personal unhappiness.

As a wholesaler, I know the saying 'retail is detail' will have resonance but in your leadership role you must ensure you have skilled people whom you trust to handle the detail. Your task is to set your business agenda to manage priorities to ensure optimum outcome.

There is a lovely rule of thumb that managers do things right whereas leaders do the right things. It's pretty much on the money in my experience. It doesn't mean you shouldn't get into the detail when you need to, though. I'm working with a CEO whose grasp of the details of his annual budget is encyclopaedic but he focuses himself to take his rightful place overseeing the future direction of his business and his people, and so should you.

Q: Having just received my annual appraisal where my boss told me I was a control freak, I am unsure whether he was being pejorative or complimentary.

A: I get so cross with inadequate appraisals. They should be a dialogue about the past and action plan for the future. How can this be achieved by an annual appraisal that results in documentation being filed and not looked at until the following year. Oh, yes, it might be dragged up again during the year if there are performance issues so someone in HR can point out, "I see, we told you about this last year". Heaven help us.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a control freak as long as you are aware this is your default position. Be conscious that you are not micro-managing and give your team space to work out different solutions. Ensure you really listen and never think you alone know the way forward. Your team needs to know your attentive listening skills are there because you want to know and explore their ideas, not just pat them on the head and stay with your decision.

And before I finish this rant, what stopped you asking your boss to explain with evidence? You would soon have picked up whether he meant it to be good or bad. So take ownership and stop being such a wimp.