It’s Time to Honour Those Boundaries
Boundaries are important. You know it. I know it. We all know it.
Despite this universal knowledge, few folks are actually effective at drawing – and honouring – boundaries. This seems especially true in the realm of leadership.
Too many of the folks I interact with operate with a misguided notion that they must be available 24/7 to those whom they lead. There’s an unspoken sense that effective leadership means you are ready to answer any question, respond to any dilemma, brainstorm on any problem, whenever you are beckoned.
A text comes in as you’re heading to bed, you text back.
The phone rings while you’re in the middle of a meal, you answer it.
An email message gets delivered as you’re working on a project, your drop everything you’re doing and respond.
Someone knocks on your office door just as you’re shutting down for the day, you let them in.
All of this is done in the name of “availability”. After all, what leader wants to be UNavailable? If you’re truly committed to your leadership, being available is the name of the game, right?
You see, there’s a difference between being available, and being ALWAYS available. The former is a good thing. The latter actually flies in the face of effective leadership. Here’s why:
1) You inadvertently set up a paradigm where folks cannot solve problems on their own. After all, they don’t have to. They can just come to you with the problem, and you will step in, immediately.
2) You’re not sharing responsibility – and effective leaders always share responsibility.
3) You’re not modeling good self-care. Which means you – and those around you – are heading towards burnout.
4) Effective leaders know how and when to take a break. Being continually available doesn’t allow for breaks.
If you want to be effective as a leader, formal or not, it’s time to free yourself from your Pavlovian response to being called/texted/emailed or otherwise called upon. It’s time to learn how to draw the boundaries that will support your leadership, and HONOUR them. Learn to step away from the text (or email, or phone, or whatever). And step solidly into the space of boundaries that serve.