If you've read my bio you know that I grew up riding horses. And for many years, my parents and I owned and lived on a farm.
When we had our farm, one of the things we made sure to do was build paddocks (fenced in areas) for the horses. With the exception of some places that still have wild horses, you see these fences on every farm because the horses need to be able to spend time each day outside, free to roam. Given no opportunity to go outside and they are just being restricted and controlled all the time. Allowed to go outside, but without these fences, they could go anywhere and that might lead to trouble.
The fences provide them with both guidance and freedom. Some horses like a lot of freedom, they'll go to the very far end of the paddock alone. Other horses prefer to stay near the others or at the point closest to the barn. The ones that like a lot of freedom sometimes manage to break out of their paddocks (we had one horse that was a master of jumping out...it really did seem like he enjoyed that act of rebellion each day!).
This popped into my head recently as a great analogy for how to lead a team or company with a well-defined culture and environment, but also allow for the autonomy that is needed in order to create engagement, leverage everyone's strengths and capabilities, and enable the individuals and group as a whole to thrive, evolve, and perform effectively.
Often I see leaders struggle with this. They think their options are black and white. Their tendency is to either take too much control (yes sometimes they micromanage because they have a high need for control, but often it is out of a well-intended desire to help the group go in the right direction particularly when the stakes are high) or provide too little or no guidance (not because they don't care, but because they want their athletes or employees to have the autonomy and ability to step up and lead themselves).
When leaders provide too little guidance, there is likely to be:
No matter whether you're an athlete, coach, musician, actor, lawyer, business owner/entrepreneur, employee, doctor, or any other type of "performer", pressure is an inevitable part of your world. Before you can think about how to respond and perform effectively under pressure, getting clarity on a few things is useful:
"Self-awareness is a key to self-mastery." - Gretchen Rubin