If my puppy was wearing a Fitbit, hers would have 20,000 steps to my 10K. As I walked down the sidewalk, she walked across it, up in the yards, out on the curb and back again. Continuously.

We both arrived at our final destination at the same time, but her route had much more stimulation and engagement. There are many more sensory treats to explore on the sidelines vs. the sidewalks, and she took full advantage of the opportunities.

I think about the parallels for the workplace. Often senior members stay on the sidewalks and follow the traditional path. Unfortunately, they expect junior colleagues to do the same. Newer employees are like puppies that want to have the freedom to get to the finish line in their own way. They want autonomy and latitude to reach the same goal.

It is impossible to make a puppy stay on the straight and narrow course, just as it is fruitless to mandate that all employees follow narrowly-defined parameters. Let up on the leash and see what treasures your “puppies” can find for your organization.

Also see leadership dot #293: reflections from 1999 for a related concept

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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