How to Achieve the Leadership Results You Want by Setting Boundaries
- Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Dr. Henry Cloud's book, Boundaries for Leaders: Results, Relationships, and Being Ridiculously in Charge (HarperBusiness, 2013).
As a leader, it’s important to have strong plans and strategies to accomplish those plans. But stopping there, as too many leaders do, won’t help you actually achieve the results you’re seeking. You need to go a step farther by setting boundaries – structures that create an environment that motivates people to do the work necessary to make the plans become reality.
Here’s how you can set boundaries that will help you achieve the leadership results you want:
Look beyond your plan to your people. Seek God’s guidance not just to develop a smart plan for your organization’s success, but also for getting people to do what it takes to make the plan work.
Learn why boundaries are important. By setting boundaries for the people in your organization, you can define and shape what is going to be, as well as what isn’t. Keep in mind that the results you’ll get from your work as a leader depend on two factors related to setting boundaries: what you create and what you allow. Reflect on what kind of organization you’ve created or allowed up until this point, and ask God to show you how it should be different from this point on.
Lead people in the ways their brains can most effectively follow. The right boundaries make it possible for people’s brains to function as God designed them to work. Human brains need to be able to: focus on something specific, not get distracted by competing data or toxicity, and be continuously aware of relevant information. So ask yourself: “What structures, disciplines, and practices make sure that your people are attending to what is most important?”, “What processes do you have in place that are inhibiting what is disruptive, irrelevant, or destructive?” and “How do you keep people conscious of what they need to remember in order to make constant progress?”
Create an emotional climate that makes brains perform well. It’s crucial to avoid a negative climate and create a positive one in your organization, since a negative working environment causes chemicals to flow through people’s brains that hamper their performance, but a positive environment releases brain chemicals that help people work well. Ways to do that include: communicating in a tone that’s soft on people while being hard on issues, empathizing with people, giving feedback that motivates people to work hard without making them feel afraid or stressed, and helping people learn from their mistakes while giving them opportunities to improve their performance rather than punishing them.
Develop connection and unity among the people on your team. Work to build and maintain connections between the people working with you. Define operating values and shared goals for your team; constantly observe the relationship dynamics among people on your team and adjust the way your team works together accordingly; design meetings around activities that will drive connection rather than simply getting together; listening carefully to each other’s thoughts and feelings; work toward shared purposes and goals; seek mutual awareness of each other; use body language and facial expressions to show openness and warmth; collaborate with each other; help people see what roles they play in moving your organization’s shared story forward; resolve conflicts; regulate emotions; reflect on emotions; and repair broken relationships through apologies, forgiveness, humility, and humor.
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