Work & Wellbeing

How to Manage your Boundaries and Expectations as a Leader

Marika Messager | 1 November 2021 | 3 years ago

Being the captain of the ship and having the responsibility of steering your team into the right direction can be tough. Having your team work like a well-oiled machine has such an important impact on the global performance of the business that all leaders aim to be effective at.

Although you have put together a dream team and have picked the best and the brightest of the lot, if they are not moving forward in the same direction with one goal, then their unique strengths are not being used to your favour and ultimately you are not harnessing the potential of each member.

So how do you give them direction?

It is only through setting clear roles and responsibilities that we can achieve this. And this can only be made effective through setting conscious and healthy boundaries and expectations for each individual.

So, what are conscious boundaries and what makes them different? A conscious boundary is a definite place where your personal space begins and that of another person ends. It can also be the definite space where your responsibility ends and that of another begins – meaning each of us need to carry our own load, both our obligations as well as the consequences of our actions. Setting boundaries prevents you from carrying others’ burden and vice versa – their load is for them to carry, and you have to worry about your own.

Why it’s hard saying “No”

Drawing the line is easier said than done. Many leaders find it hard to say no and this is perfectly understandable because we are human and emotions are in play. So, why is it hard to say no? Here are some of the common reasons:

  • Wanting to prove your worth
  • Feeling guilty
  • Fear of not being liked
  • Feeling obliged
  • Fear of being perceived as weak
  • Don’t want to let anyone down
  • Failing to recognise the extent of the commitment
If you are in a position of influence, it is easy to fall into the trap of trying to please everyone. But leading a team to success is not all roses and rainbows. Leaders need to make tough decisions, and most of the time this results in conflicts at the workplace. As Steve Jobs said, “If you want to be liked, sell ice-cream. Don’t be a leader”.

Gift of Healthy Boundaries

Conscious leaders need to understand that boundaries are essential because it is an act of self-love from an expansive emotional state.

It may seem self-serving, but healthy boundaries are what leaders need in order to be effective in their roles, and here’s why:

  • Authenticity – Having healthy boundaries in place allows true self-expression. You are able to say what is true to you in all situations and you are able to give your 100% YES in all the commitments that you make.
  • Self-care – “I love and accept myself” – This applies for all, and not only for leaders. Having healthy boundaries gives you the opportunity to put yourself first in any situation.
  • Clarity – Healthy boundaries creates realistic expectations for you and for others as well. This way, your team knows what you are able to provide, and what each of them are responsible for.
  • Safety – you ensure safety through boundaries and you are protected physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
  • Efficiency – By setting up healthy boundaries, you ensure that when you commit and say YES, you are making a conscious choice that you know you can honour and follow through with aligned actions.
  • Leadership – As you role model healthy boundaries and conscious choice, you give permission to and inspire others to do the same.

How Conscious Leaders Manage Boundaries and Expectations

Set healthy boundaries

Being clear in the roles that each member needs to fulfil helps in setting expectations on what each of them needs to deliver. The lines become unambiguous, and chances of them being crossed will be close to none if you are explicit with team roles and responsibilities.

Regular communication

Communicate your values and your vision to your team regularly to keep them moving in the same direction. Reminding them of their why will definitely keep them on track. Also keep in mind that communication goes both ways, so you have to be open to them expressing their concerns and ideas. Listen and understand while bearing in mind that you would have to set the example of enforcing healthy boundaries.

Encouraging regular feedback ensures continuous progress within the team. Be open and honest. Give them constructive criticism, but also be prepared to get some feedback from them as well. High performance teams are built on trust and showing your team that you can listen and understand is one way of making this happen.

Set clear goals and be their inspiration

Clarity and alignment are important when making goals work. It is easy to set an end goal, but unless it is attainable and measurable, then there is no point. Be clear on what your team needs to achieve and how you will get to that point. Point out how crucial the role of each person is to attaining that success to inspire them to pull together to get there. And as the team gets closer to the finish line, make sure to celebrate small WINS in order to inspire them to keep on going.

Boundaries do not create a loss of freedom but rather the gain of freedom through conscious choice

Being able to do it from an expansive state is actually liberating. Remember that healthy boundaries empower and do not limit. It helps your team feel that they are part of something bigger as they accomplish goals one after the other. It is on your shoulders to guide them and it is only through conscious boundaries and realistic expectations that these can be achieved.

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