Business Idioms 3: Control

This lesson will focus on using a variety of expressions related to control.


This lesson will help you use these idioms describing control. You will also get a chance to talk about your own experiences.

Warm Up: 

Who is someone you know that is a natural leader? Give an example of how they take control.


Please consider each expression and match them to the images. Your instructor has an example and a question regarding each one. 

  1. in the driver’s seat—be in control of a situation.
  2. be on (one’s) toes—be active, alert and ready to react quickly.
  3. not take something lying down—refuse to accept something without resistance.
  4. take the bull by the horns—deal with a problem or difficult situation directly and confidently.
  5. have the upper hand—have more power than anyone else and be in control.
A. B.
C. D.



A. Complete the anecdote

Read each section and choose an appropriate idiom from the list above.

  1. Things change quickly in my industry, so I always have to…
  2. A good manager should have a clear overview of their and their team’s goals and should be in complete control of all the steps required to realise them. He or she needs to…
  3. For many years, Karen’s company was behind in their industry, but following a series of changes in the management structure and the introduction of several groundbreaking services, it now…
  4. My firm refuses to accept it when a competitor tries to take over our market share. When it comes to that kind of thing, we…
  5. As a CEO, there are frequent occasions when I have to take swift action to resolve a difficult issue. At those times, I simply have to…

B. Discussion

Use idioms to discuss the following topics.

  1. What are the main strengths of a good manager?
  2. Should staff always follow their manager’s instructions? In which situations might it be advisable to question the decisions of a senior?
  3. Which technology companies will dominate in the next ten years?



Unattributed via PxFuel
caropat via Pixabay
Hector Alejandro via Flickr
Neal Jennings via Flickr
Bernd Viefhues via Unsplash