Because of my job, I do a lot of driving. I spend most of my days driving visiting people and going from one Dunkin’ Donuts to another Dunkin’ Donuts. Recently I was daydreaming, and I started focusing on the lines on the road.

Have you ever taken the time to stop and pay attention to the lines as you drive? There are different colors, the double yellow lines the solid white line the hashed yellow lines and hashed white lines. It seems like there’s so many different patterns and sizes, there’s got to be a purpose for each one.

I started wondering who makes the decisions as far as where the solid lines go, where the hashed ones go, where to put the double line, where do the single lines with hashed on one side. Who creates these rules and who is the person that came up with the idea of putting lines on roads. After all, it’s just a little line painted on the road that can cause me to get a ticket. That is if I choose to cross one of them at the wrong time. It all seems like a lot of power for a painted line.

Well, after a period of thinking about lines, you can guess that I started thinking about leadership. You are probably wondering about what these lines have to do with leadership. I find it interesting that something that seems so simple can control traffic and help us to travel and a safe manner along with keeping us from running into each other.

As a leader, we can learn a lot of things from these lines. In leadership, there are certain things that we must provide our team to help them function in a way where they do not run into each other. We need to establish boundaries that keep them safe and still allow them to be creative and effective.

In reality, these painted lines on the road or our boundaries, and I will be honest, boundaries or not something that I enjoy. In fact, I enjoy living outside of the box, boundaries are those things that stifle my productivity. But living outside of the box, living in a world where there are no boundaries creates chaos. It can create confusion and can cause major accidents. These accidents can destroy relationships, careers, or reputations.

Some of the boundaries that we as leaders need to put in place for our team include job descriptions, specific responsibilities, and expectations just to name a few. There are also boundaries that are not so obvious, such as when does joking become offensive? Where does the authority boundary fit with being a friend? These are the boundaries that are not usually put in place yet without them it ends up causing harm and can eventually destroy the team.

The challenge I have for you this week this is determining what boundaries are already in place with your team. The unspoken ones that everyone on the team is aware of? Then try to figure out which boundaries need to be put in place so that everyone can travel long without running into each other. They can be as simple as showing up for meetings on time, what’s expected from each team member, or how much input each team member needs to provide.

The lesson we need to learn from the lines on the road is simple. The boundaries do not need to be obtrusive, and everyone on the team needs to understand it’s for their safety, not to create restrictions that stifle their productivity or their creativity. Also, remember, Sometimes if there’s a wreck in front of me I’ll have to drive over the lines. This means that these boundaries might also need to be flexible.