Boundaries for Leaders

Ultimately, leadership is about turning a vision into reality; it’s about producing real results in the real world. And that is only done through people doing what it takes to make it happen. So, as a leader, how do you get that to happen? What are the things that you have to do to ensure they will do what will make it work? What do you have to do with a team, a direct report, or an entire organization?

Why is it that some leaders are able to get those results when they implement those principles? When they cast vision, engage talent, work towards execution, create and implement strategy… great results happen. Yet, other leaders do not get those same results, even with good plans? Why?

I believe that among all of the things that a leader does, one of the most important is to set “boundaries.” Basically, a “boundary” is a property line. It defines what will exist on a property and what will not. The property line around your home is like that. It defines where your property begins and ends, and you are in charge of exactly what will happen on that property—and, to our point here, within your business or organization.

Leaders must establish some boundaries in some very key areas if they want to get results.

And, thanks to brain research, we now can scientifically get a peek into why the leaders who do establish these kinds of boundaries get the results that they get.

Clinical psychologist Henry Cloud, author of the recent book Boundaries for Leaders, has identified the following 5 key boundaries.

  • The Boundary of Focus – “What are we doing?”
  • The Boundary of Emotional Climate – “What does it feel like to work here?”
  • The Boundary Against Disconnection – “Where’s my buddy?”
  • The Boundary Against Negative Thinking – “Yes, we can!”
  • The Control Boundary – “What can I do that matters?”

When leaders realize that they are ridiculously in charge of what happens on their “property,” the lines that exist under their leadership, they ask themselves what they are either creating or allowing. And as we have seen, much of it can be improved if they take charge and establish some good boundaries that help people’s brains work well. They can create good brain cultures.

When that happens with good people, results will follow.


>>Download Dr. Cloud’s understanding of these 5 key boundaries here.

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Henry Cloud

Dr. Henry Cloud is a clinical psychologist with an extensive background in both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, and he has a well-established private practice in California. He is also an international speaker and the author of the The One-Life Solution , as well as coauthor of the bestselling Boundaries, The Mom Factor, Raising Great Kids, and How People Grow.

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I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
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