Crucial Boundaries for Bosses

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word boundaries? Are you thinking about border walls and fences or long lines waiting at an immigration window? Or do you think about that time a someone asked if you would help them move? Or was it the last time you said yes when you really meant no? We have all done it at some point, we’re human. It is these times of ‘boundary creep’ that shine a light on where we need to reinforce our boundaries.

Boundaries, at their essence, are anything that helps to differentiate you from someone else or show where you begin and end. It is a limit you set on what you will accept of another person’s words or actions.
When it comes to effective communication, leading others, and being the boss, that is the important point. It is a limit you set on what you will accept of another person’s words or actions.
When it comes to Drawing firm boundaries, there are situations, times and even people we are involved with where it is more difficult, and there can be a type of boundary creep. When you recognize this, you can reaffirm your boundaries with Grace, intention, and respect, which will lead to stronger relationships.

People want to follow a strong leader. They want to believe that the person who is leading the team has their best interests at heart and that she is capable and respectful enough to honor their boundaries while holding firm to hers.

During the zombie apocalypse, you too want to follow Rick Grimes, not the Governor. Even though he may seem like a perfectly capable leader and was pretty darn effective for a while, the governors’ leadership, was built on control, not trust. While Rick’s is built on some crystal clear guiding principles. There are some real-life examples of leaders throughout history that had impeccable moral compasses when it came to their boundaries and what they would accept of another person’s words or actions; Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jesus, Mother Teresa, my mother -Theresa (she is a strong woman, leader, and has clear strong boundaries), and those are the big guns.

I bet there are some people in your personal life that you can think of who have clear boundaries that you admire. Keeping them in mind during difficult times where you need to draw firm clear boundaries can be helpful.

Uncertainty or a lack of clarity around your expectations will inevitably lead your staff or team members to try to “mind read” and fill in the blanks for you, and this can lead to an unusable work product and waste your time, money and energy. Establishing upfront what rules are non-negotiable and making sure that they are crystal clear Is only fair.

Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend in their seminal book “Boundaries” touch on the fact that Consequences are an imperative part of learning how to set your own boundaries, and “consequences “give some good barbs to fences” they say. To Rescue people from the natural consequences of their behavior, is to render them powerless. Setting boundaries inevitably involve taking responsibility for your choices. When done with a kind heart from a place of intention, it is a kindness, and you are empowering them to take ownership and grow.

Finding the ‘Sweet Spot’ between meeting your employee’s needs and growing your business so it can flourish starts with these 5 Boundary ‘musts’.

  1. A Defined job Description – Having a detailed description of what the job entails will lay out the expectations and parameters of their position. These descriptions should be revisited often. As your business grows, employee positions may change.
  2. Give clear Feedback – Be clear about what kind of work is subpar or below your standards and when something is done really well. Give your employees something to go on, strive for and achieve.
  3. Be social, but in moderation – Your support network is not among your employees. Don’t put yourself out there as someone that your employees can confide in about personal issues. You may be a support for work or business-related issues and some interpersonal issues that crop up, but you should avoid involvement in personal ones.
  4. Be fair – Treat all of your employees the same, no matter when they started with you or your company, or what kind of personal relationship you may have. When you treat each person fairly, you build trust and unity with your team.
  5. Walk the walk – Lead by example. Own your mistakes, be clear about your own boundaries and celebrate wins as a team.

You are the boss. You are the leader. You set the tone for what is acceptable behavior.
You need clearly defined expectations, but you should also leave room for them to do it in their own way.
Personal ingenuity flourishes when there is a strong structure or system in place. When you are clear about your expectations and allow your employee to achieve the task in their own way, they can flourish by adding their own “special sauce” to it.

Want to know more about being the best possible Boss you can be? Check out my Podcast “Difficult Happens – Effective Communication for Bosses”


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