What happens if you let children play on a playground with no fence around it?

A study by Peter S. at Mississippi State University shows that they will mostly play in the center of the area and play in the proximity of their guardian.

What happens if you “limit their freedom” by putting a fence or some natural boundaries around the playground?

That same study shows the children will be more eager and willing to explore the entire area available to them.

A simple study that illustrates the best answer to a frequent question I get from young leaders during our coaching and trainings:

“How do I guide my team in keeping focus while not limiting their creativity and decision making freedom?”

– Offer your team a framework of clear values, behaviors and sharp goals toward which you can put these behaviors to use. Just like the fenced playground, this is the scope they can operate in. It might sound counter intuitive, seeing you often hear that leaders should offer as much freedom as possible to their teams, but it triggers that freedom even more when you do provide guidelines. Within this area your team can explore ideas, make independent decisions, because they can always check if what they are doing is within the framework and their actions are therefor adding value in function of the team goals.

Again, this might sound harsh on paper, but from experience it’s one of the biggest gifts you can give your team (and yourself) if you want them to perform and operate freely.


  • Your team will take independent decisions that add value
  • Ideas will be explored, but their executions will always be relevant
  • You can focus on leading, instead of drowning in operations or being tricked into micro-management