I recall a night coloring with my sister and our babysitter around the age of 5 or 6. Coloring isn't too exciting to write about, and truthfully wasn't all too eventful then either. But for some reason I am here writing about it because of the way my babysitter taught me to color in a coloring book. She outlined each black line heavily with the color then used the same color to lightly fill in the areas. I love the way the final picture looked. The picture was of an alligator and the green popped out of the picture above the bright blue ripples, formed by his seismic leap from the water. This impacted how I would color and my standards for proper "coloring" for many many years.
My coloring was always controlled, defined, and neat. Then a day came when I realized I might be among a few proud line definers, the day my daughter opened her first coloring book. For her, it was all she could do to try to spread each color on each page of the book as quickly as possible. I had no control over this and it, surprisingly frustrated me. Why would she not want to make her pre-formed art perfectly planned and executed?
We do this a lot on our own teams, in our families, and with our peers. We want them to see the lines we have drawn and only color within those lines. Do we provide adequate space for them to color how they choose to color?
My daughter now has more motor control over her coloring and produces wonderful, colorful renderings with her name proudly across the bottom or top of the page. Don't we want this from our teams? The pride that comes from completing a job even though it has their own flavor or sprinkling of personality on it? Don't we WANT our kids, our employees, and our peers to feel as though they can be proud to be themselves within the confines of our lines? Someone wiser than me said there is a difference between breaking the will and breaking the spirit of a person...
You can and should draw lines within your organization, otherwise how will anyone know what you stand for, what you do or what you are. HOWEVER, you are missing a big piece of the puzzle if you use those lines as ways to control those who follow you.