Many leaders believe that in order to effectively manage their team they have to make a choice between being liked or respected. They then attempt to manage in way that will produce one of these outcomes, yet (despite their efforts) can sometimes end up being neither liked nor respected.
This can happen because when you manager leads with either one of these aims as their focus, they can too easily fall into the trap of managing with either no or an inappropriate demonstration of boundaries. I say inappropriate demonstration of boundaries because there is a lot of misunderstand surrounding boundaries within leadership and as a result it is often replaced with an coercive style of managing, which makes many demands of employee and allows for neither good nor bad to flow in an attempt to gain the respect of their employees.
Boundaries are in fact property lines that mark off territory, allowing for the good and restricting the undesirable, whilst the advantages of this are clear in a personal setting, very few have an understanding of how the benefits of boundaries translate in leadership.
Having clearly defined boundaries are essential in leadership as it can acts a responsibility filter, helping to define more easily what we and are not responsible for. This is very useful within leadership as it encourages ownership and also prevents both, you and your team taking on more than their fair share, but boundaries in leadership also have other less obvious advantages that often fly under the radar, such as:
Directing focus, it is essential as a leader that you present tasks to your team in a way that helps their brain to work best, research has found that the brain (contrary to popular belief) does not respond well to multi-tasking and operates at its best when focused on one thing at a time. Having boundaries around topic, when presenting goals/task helps to focus attention on what is desired and takes the attention away from what is not desired or useless to the task at hand.
Forming positive working relationships, there are those who think that setting boundaries, restricts their ability to connect with others at work but in fact the opposite is true, with clearly, defined boundaries employees know exactly where they stand at all time, as boundaries are consistent and do not fluctuate with mood or circumstances. This provides a level of stability and eventually builds trust within your working relationships, allowing your team the opportunity to connect with you more rather than less. These improved relationships can also have a direct impact on performance, as research has revealed that people who feel better, think better.
Positively impacting negative thinking, if not addressed, a general state of negative thinking and a culture of feeling a helpless victim to one’s fate can tend to pollute teams and sometimes, entire companies. This type of thinking lowers the general morale, motivation and enthusiasm of the company / team and also negatively impacts results, as it actually limits a person’s ability to think their way towards positive outcome. So setting boundaries around this type of thinking or culture and promoting a ‘can do’ attitude can have a massive positive impact on not only the morale, motivation and enthusiasm of your team but also performance and results.
A manager can work so hard in an aim to be liked or respected in the workplace that they can often completely overlooking boundaries, unaware that setting appropriate boundaries can not only improve relationships, thinking and results but also clearly demonstrates competence. Therefore, allowing the opportunity to be both liked and respect.
‘An essential part of leadership is establishing and maintaining clearly defined boundaries’
Written by Angelena Lewis
Personal Development and Leadership Coach at KWC Worldwide