Got Boundaries?

Got Boundaries?

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There’s a line from a Robert Frost poem that often comes to mind when I speak with leaders about managing their teams: “Good fences make good neighbors.”  This line could be a mantra for leaders about the importance of boundaries.

As a leader, you have several roles related to boundaries in the workplace:

  • Set and maintain good boundaries for yourself
  • Establish and articulate boundaries for the team
  • Monitor and maintain team boundaries
  • Respond and repair when boundaries are violated.

In order to lead effectively, it is imperative you have clear boundaries for yourself, both personally and professionally. Your management of boundaries serves as the model for boundaries within your team. Once you manage your own boundaries successfully you are equipped to manage boundaries within your team.

The first step in setting good boundaries, whether for yourself or your team, is awareness. Know what is essential for you or the team to function at your best and what are the absolute deal breakers.  For your personal boundaries, identify what energizes you, what drains your energy and what takes you off track. Encourage the team to make the same assessment for themselves individually and for the team as a whole.

Find a way to communicate boundaries within your team in ways that are clear and respectful. When individuals express their boundaries, they don’t need to defend, debate, or detail their feelings. For the team, boundaries should be negotiated and agreed upon by consensus, understanding that as the leader, you may need to negotiate the middle ground between competing priorities.

Two things to keep in mind when setting boundaries: make them few and make them important. Too many boundaries create confusion, exhaustion and opportunities for conflict. Your role as the leader is to monitor the team’s process and progress and issue warnings if it appears boundary violations are imminent. Recognizing potential problems ahead of time can help the team to make boundary adjustments, rather than responding to damage when a boundary is violated.

Once you’ve created a boundary, view it like a fence. It separates what is acceptable from what is not. Keep in mind that fences have gates – places where people can get from one side to the other with permission. Know when it’s time to open the gate or adjust the boundary and do it with intention, clarity, and consistency. Just as landowners periodically walk the perimeter to see if fences have been breached or need to be adjusted, take time to review your personal and team boundaries from time to time to see if new boundaries need to be drawn.

Good boundaries make good teams, just like good fences make good neighbors. Learn to be a boundary master and you will Increase Your Impact.

Dr. Sherene McHenry, Relational Leadership and Burnout expert, is a widely acclaimed speaker, author and coach that demystifies how to lead, motivate and resolve conflict for optimal results. Known for being wise, witty and practical, Sherene provides instantly implementable tips and strategies for enhancing effectiveness, increasing engagement and decreasing burnout, frustrations and miscommunications.

How Talking Like A Pirate Makes You A Better Leader

How Talking Like A Pirate Makes You A Better Leader

Conflict Resolution Employee Engagement Leadership Leadership Effectiveness

Do you want to be a better leader? Then let’s start by talking about conflict. I know it’s probably not your favorite topic – mine either! However, we can’t talk about leadership effectiveness without talking about conflict. Why? Because handling conflict is a critical leadership task, and failure to manage conflict appropriately is a primary reason that leaders fail. So, if needed, take a deep breath and let’s dive right in.

To handle conflict like a pro, you have to talk like a pirate. Before you think I’ve gone off my rocker, read on. What comes to mind when you think of how a pirate talks? If you’re like me, you think of the sound –aarr- that precedes any sentence. Once you get the sound in your head, it’s hard to get rid of and that’s exactly why I want you to talk like a pirate while honing your conflict management skills.

AARR is the sound that will help you be a better leader as you remember the four elements of good conflict management:

Anticipate – Good leaders recognize that conflict is inevitable. Even in the best-run organizations, there are disagreements from time to time. As you look ahead in day-to-day operations and for the long term, think about likely bumps in the road. Some conflicts will be focused on individuals, others on ideas. Planning ahead enables you to prepare positive responses and have them ready to go before the need arises.

Avoid – If you expect conflict and can anticipate where and why it may occur, you can also develop strategies to avoid or minimize its disruption within your team. As the leader, you chart the course and steer the ship. When possible, pilot your team away from trouble spots that will derail your efforts and destroy morale. Of course, it isn’t always possible or even desirable to totally avoid conflict, but if you have a diversion strategy in place, you may be able to reduce the negative impact when it does occur.

Recognize – With conflict, as with everything else, your responsibility as the leader is to see the big picture, scan the environment and help your team understand what is happening at any given moment. When conflict is brewing, or has been buried under the surface, good leaders recognize the clues and take steps to ensure the problem is addressed.

Recognizing conflict includes acknowledging it openly and honestly so that it can be addressed. Hidden conflict simmers under the surface and can have devastating consequences when it erupts unexpectedly. As a leader, choosing the time and the manner in which conflict is named and handled increases your likelihood of achieving a positive outcome.

Resolve – Far too often, conflict is smoothed over, rather than resolved. As a leader, you need to look beneath the surface to its underlying causes and address those issues. Without deeper attention and actual resolution, conflict recycles again and again.

Ensure your team members are truly engaged and invested in the solution so that they will be committed to moving forward. You will know a conflict is resolved when it is no longer being rehashed and revisited – and when solutions are honoring, collaborative and respectful to involved individuals and the organization.

Dr. Sherene McHenry, Leadership Effectiveness expert, is a widely acclaimed speaker, author and coach that demystifies how to lead, motivate and resolve conflict for optimal results. Known for being wise, witty and highly practical, Sherene provides instantly implementable tips and strategies for becoming a better leader, enhancing leadership effectiveness and employee engagement.

New Year New You–Increase Your Leadership Effectiveness Resolution

New Year New You–Increase Your Leadership Effectiveness Resolution

Employee Engagement Leadership Leadership Effectiveness Motivation

When you think about a new year’s resolution, your first thought might not be one concerning your leadership effectiveness. This year, instead of the traditional:

  • Lose Weight
  • Join a Gym
  • Eat Healthier
  • Eliminate a Bad Habit
  • Take More Time Off

I propose you make a resolution concerning how you’re going to function as a leader, in both your work and personal life. Here is my suggestion:

As a leader, in 2017 I will focus first on relationships.

Relationships are the groundwork, the foundation, on which all of the rest of the work of leadership rests. Without positive relationships with your team, the people you serve and others who influence your success, the tasks of leadership are far more difficult.

Stephen Covey has a great metaphor for building relationships in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He talks about relationships as “emotional bank accounts” where the positive things we do, the ways in which we feed and nurture the relationship, are like making deposits in the account. When trouble arises or when trust is violated, there is a corresponding withdrawal.

As a leader, how will you make deposits in your relational bank accounts in 2017? Here are my top five tips for doing just that:

1. Invest time. Spend time getting to know your team beyond the tasks they perform. Learn what is important to them, what motivates them and who they are when they aren’t at work. Be genuinely interested – have conversations that have nothing to do with work. Taking the time for morning greetings and remembering an upcoming special occasion go a long way to building positive relationships.

2. Communicate openly. People need to know what is expected, where things are going and their role in the process. They also need to have the opportunity to express their feelings. Open communication is as much about listening as it is about talking. Seeking the input of your team on issues that affect them creates an investment in the outcome – and in the relationship. Open communication is also important in building trust and reducing conflict.

3. Express appreciation. Good, solid relationships are based in mutual respect and feeling valued. It is not enough to think good things about your team members – you need to say good things about them. Express appreciation directly and give accolades in public. When your people feel valued, they want to live up to your positive opinion over and over again.

4. Demonstrate loyalty. Loyalty is an essential ingredient in successful relationships. Support your team when things get tough and challenges arise from inside or outside the organization. When conflicts arise within the team, and they will, it’s important that all team members feel supported and valued. Your team needs to know that they can count on you in the good times and bad.

5. Deposit more than you withdraw.

Just like a monetary bank account, the stability of a relational bank account depends on positive cash flow. The cushion that will see you through rough times is ensuring you have more than the minimum balance in the account at all times. Give more to your team than you expect them to give to you and you will always have a solid relationship.

Having solid relationships is essential to your effectiveness as a leader, and developing successful relationships requires intention and attention. In 2017, resolve to focus first on relationships. I guarantee you will Increase Your Effectiveness.

Dr. Sherene McHenry, Leadership Effectiveness expert, is a widely acclaimed speaker, author and coach that demystifies how to lead, motivate and resolve conflict for optimal results. Known for being wise, witty and highly practical, Sherene provides instantly implementable tips and strategies for developing effective leadership qualities that get results.