A Leader’s Boundaries; The 4 Fundamentals of Setting Boundaries!

Boundaries, what a powerful word… Boundaries work to set limits, expectations, and standards; three things you’ll need to enhance your Leadership & Work/Life Harmony… and that of those around you! There are times in life when you’ll feel compelled to Stand Up and set a boundary…  boundaries for yourself, your dignity, or to correct an injustice. No one is exempt from the bumps and bruises life will dole out from time to time. Setting boundaries to maintain the vision, expectations, and rules that best propel your mission, your team, and the organization forward doesn’t promise to be pretty… sometimes it’s simply necessary! When you decide to stand up and set boundaries… the goal is to come out the other side “Better” instead of  “Bitter”! So, how to do it?

Accept Personal Responsibility

The most important guiding principle to remember before, during, and after you set a boundary is… Remembering (in most cases) you’ve allowed whatever is stressing you! Obviously, there are awful life events that are beyond your control, however, most things we’re upset about are within our control and we allow them to happen to us regularly at work, in our relationships, with our children, and in our lives. You picked that job and continue to stay; accepting raises, promotions, the perks, and that paycheck every two weeks. You picked your significant other as much as they picked you… and YOU continue to stay. You had your children and allow their routine and ways in which they interact with you; I can go on… but you get the point! The first thing to acknowledge is… your consistent actions or inaction have compounded and led you to where you are now, what you’re receiving, and how you are feeling. So, before we stand up, blame, and attack… this soul-searching first step acts to temper your response and allow your upcoming decisions to be beneficial rather than spiteful.

Raise Your Value

This step makes sense to do throughout the process, but is tremendously valuable after accepting personal responsibility for your life, professionally and personally.

A friend once told me, “When you raise your value higher than your customer’s stack of money… you’ll be just fine”. This simple sentence changed my entire life, business, and lifestyle! Be willing to raise your value professionally and personally by “Understanding the Opposition”. There are opposing forces everywhere, it may be your employees, your boss, your partner, kids, etc. Ask yourself these powerful two questions:

  1. How do I understand this person to be; why are they the way they are?
  2. What do I believe is their biggest and deepest need from me right now?

It’s amazing how much more people tend to adhere to your boundaries when their deepest need is being met as well! Whatever you believe there deepest need to be from you… is what you know you need to do to enhance your value. Do it and do it a bit past your comfort zone; being sure your effort doesn’t make you bitter. If you’re interested in evolving past this point… use the “Get-Great Question”! It may sound like, “I want to be great here (professionally/personally)… I want to be the greatest leader ever or the best husband/wife ever… what do you need most from me right now? If they don’t have an answer right away or tell you to keep doing what you’re doing… allow them time to think. Everyone isn’t prepared for the suddenness of such a powerful question.

When you get your answer, you’re going to learn a lot about the person who answered it… and how they feel about you! Your job is not to defend or fight their answer, rather to listen, evaluate the truth of their perspective… and choose to implement. Keep in mind, if you ask enough people and there’s a common theme… they can’t all be wrong!

Setting The Boundary

“Setting the Boundary” involves advocating for yourself and can be a tough thing to do; especially when confrontation isn’t your thing. Whatever boundary you’re setting (professionally or personally), be sure it is reasonable, doable, and ARE YOU ABLE TO ENFORCE IT and FOLLOW THROUGH!

Is your boundary reasonable? You know the people at your job and in your life… is your new boundary reasonable for the way you know things to be? For example, wanting everyone to come into work and be on time daily during a Global Pandemic with children all across the country doing virtual learning and no daycare available… perhaps a bit of understanding and flexibility would be more reasonable? Or, you want a raise; knowing you work in a company that is financially struggling. Perhaps there are alternative ways to negotiate: a bit of a raise, with more time off, and increased stock in the company?

Is your boundary doable… for you and your people? The best example is the parent that grounds their child for a month… knowing their kids will drive them crazy in the house with no friends, video games, or cell phone for that duration of time; leading to the parent cracking under the pressure consistently looking like a push-over. Or, the boss that sets unreasonable expectations and threatens to fire anyone and everyone that doesn’t comply. Typically, when employees are leaving by the herd… it’s the leadership; not the people!

This does not imply you lower your standards and expectations as a leader; rather it’s preparing you for the inevitable uphill climb you’ll face when setting a new boundary. Remember, everyone that starts with you, may not finish with you… and that has to be OK… as long as their departure isn’t due to your poor leadership!


You’ve been thinking about this new boundary, dealing with the stress, and now focused on solving the issue… this entire situation is old to you, but will be brand new to them; coming out of the blue like a Mack Truck! Just as you needed time to process, they (your job, partner, kids, etc.) may need time to mentally adjust and may not all of the sudden become or act like the picture you see in your head or think you deserve.

It’s a new habit for your people to create and a new expectation for you to continuously lead! Some may jump on board right away; while others stumble through the process. This does not mean you lower the bar, your standards, or expectations… keep them high! However, it allows you perspective and will save you a bit of frustration and rash decisions made out of irritation.

Be sure to share your new boundary with your people; attaching them to the vision to propel the team forward in your meetings and 1-on-1’s.

“Boundaries work to set limits, standards, and expectations; three things you’ll need to enhance your leadership, the leadership of those around you, and work/life harmony” – Andre Young

Written by: Andre Young

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