Every rule, or lack of one, will have a reaction. Whether good or bad, wise or unwise, every decision that leadership makes in an organization will always cause people to react a certain way.
As leaders, it is our responsibility to decide, then measure the effects of each of our rules (or lack of them). We need to be able to tell if what we put into place is actually accomplishing the vision we have for our organization.
The general “rule” of thumb should be this: the more rules you have, the less creativity and innovation will exist. But, there are occasions when certain rules, when properly designed and implemented, can actually be a benefit to an organization.
Years ago, as a youth pastor, I realized that in our youth services, the worship team looked disinterested in what they were doing every time they were on the platform, playing their music and leading worship. They spent most of the time simply looking down at their music stands, reading the music and playing their instrument, but otherwise uninvolved.
So I made a rule: no more music stands on the platform!
I’m sure most of them hated me for it. Some thought it was unfair. I’m sure others believed it was too hard to memorize music (I figured that if they were really interested in learning music, memorizing a few chord sheets would be the least of their worries…professional music is much more difficult)!
My rule was designed to limit a certain behavior, in order to cause another one. My goal was to increase creativity, not diminish it. My goal was to increase emotional engagement, not diminish it. My goal was to increase their leadership capacity, not diminish it. My goal was to teach them more, not less. Certain rules, when they are well conceived and implemented correctly, can have GREAT results.
Since then, I’ve talked to a few of them. Now, a few years later, they are thanking me for it. My goals both in the moment AND for the future of these young people were accomplished.
In this case, I created a limitation in one area so that they would be more free in other areas.
That’s why I like the “Yield” sign.
In many organizations, many leaders use the “Stop” sign too often. They diminish the capacity of those who work with them to make decisions, show creativity, and build the church/business/school/etc. In other organizations, they approach their leadership with NO signs. In this situation, the team members don’t know what to expect of each other (or their boss/leader/pastor), and each person goes their own way, which results in disastrous consequences.
A “Yield” sign communicates something different: Continue on your way, but watch out for others.
In other words…we’re all in this together, but we do have the freedom to make decisions that we believe are best in order to make it to our destination.
One key to leadership is knowing the balance between when to say “stop” and when to say nothing at all. In most cases, “yielding” will work just fine.
Let’s teach people how to think, make decisions, and lead those around them. But, in the process let’s (at times) put requirements/obstacles/etc in their paths so that they may actually make progress for where they need to go.
There’s a freeway off-ramp close to my house that just got redone. The off-ramp has no signs, but operates a bit like a “yield” as it connects with street traffic. Half of the time I get off the freeway, I find somebody completely stopped, instead of moving forward.
Apparently, so much of the world has “Stop” signs around it, that most people assume that’s what they need to do, even when there isn’t a sign. Imagine what will happen in your organization if you teach people that they don’t have to “stop” all the time!