Leading with Boundaries

Two days ago I was riding my mountain bike through our local eleven mile bike path and saw a young child riding toward me with her father behind her on his bike.  As I pedaled closer to the child, I noticed that she was drifting in front of me.  I had to swerve off the path to avoid her.  Thankfully, I missed her, but her dad said an interesting thing to her.  He said, “Now, you will have a time out when you get home.”  It was as if her drifting toward me caused her to be disciplined at home.  I felt badly for her.  I got her in trouble?

My guess is that her father had been reminding her to stay on her side of the path and was finally tired of it.  It reminded me that so much of leading is setting boundaries for those we lead.  Setting goals and motivating others can only go so far if people go off course and stray.  I see this all the time.  I see people who either don’t know their job description or know it and simply ignore their role in  their organization.  In football, it takes just one person to veer off course and cause a play to blow up.  Employees who ignore boundaries duplicate services, cause division, and create distractions.  Some must be continually refocused.  They exhaust those to whom they report.

We had a saying with the Jets. “Know your role, do your job.”  Overstepping boundaries may appear assertive and diligent, but it actually destroys teams.  Two cornerbacks covering one receiver leaves another receiver wide open.  Find people in your organization who are team players and who can stick with the plan without squashing their ingenuity and creativity.  Winning teams do this.

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