Paint-by-Numbers Leadership

I recently had the chance to sit down with several leaders in an organization to learn more about their company’s approach to leadership. When I asked one leader to describe his company’s management and leadership style, he said they had a paint-by-numbers management team.

When he said that, my mind started running 90 miles an hour. I’ve never heard of this description, but boy have I seen and experienced it! Remember painting by numbers as a kid? It was a way for us to look like an artist. Where the picture said #4 we painted with color #4. If you stayed in the lines you ended up with a decent picture. The downside to painting by the numbers, though, was that you couldn’t paint anything else on your own. You had to stick with the numbers and stay within the lines. (more…)

Last week my youngest had her wisdom teeth out, so I re-arranged my schedule and worked from home for a few days while she recouped. Though I was grateful to have the flexibility to keep working while still being able to look after my daughter, by the end of Day 2, I was starting to feel a bit stir crazy, confined within the walls of my office and away from the chaos, meetings, and daily face-to-face interactions with teammates and clients that I find fulfilling and energizing.

When I shared this with two of my virtual teammates, they laughed! They had just been discussing how much they enjoyed working in boundaries of their quiet home offices with few interruptions to their production. I quickly realized that what some of us view as boundaries, others of us view as confinement! (more…)