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“Boundaries for Leaders” caught my eye in the bookstore. I’m always looking for tidbits of information on how to best lead and influence our culture, then share it  with the new leaders in our company. However, the word “boundaries” often has a negative connotation associated with it. So I was curious to see how boundaries could be used by a leader in a positive way.

Henry writes, “A boundary is a structure that determines what will exist and what will not.”

Hmm. Still doesn’t sound too positive to me. Structure? Boundary? Just not the words that make me envision employees filled with joy at work.

When I read further, I realized that setting boundaries is really about accountability and managing time better. Plus creating a positive, energetic and innovative work environment by deciding what is going to be allowed and what is not. At every level.

For example, we’ve built into our daily plan something called, “Groove time.” From 9:30a.m. to noon each day it’s a time where all of us can focus—with minimal interruptions—and refrain from meetings. We decided we’re most creative in the morning and to use this time of day for more focused attention to work. It’s been a really positive “boundary,” and we honor it with few exceptions, like client-requested meetings or photo/video shoots.

Dr. Cloud contends that, “Our brains need to be able to: (a) Focus on something specific, (b) Avoid getting off track by other data inputs or toxicity, and (c) continuously be aware of relevant information at all times.”

He calls this part “working memory.” It’s basically memory retention that you continue to build upon. Dr. Cloud also talks about how multi-tasking is overrated. He says we should, “attend to what is relevant and inhibit anything else.”

One question in the book that I don’t think a lot of business owners consider is, “Have you ever thought about how your people feel at work? You better.”

I am such a “feeling” person so I am constantly checking on my co-workers. What is their mood like? Are they feeling okay today? Are they stressed out and looking like a dear in the headlights? Is there something I can say or do to help them have a better day in the office? Unfortunately, I know some leaders that really don’t care how their folks are feeling about their jobs. I think they would say, “They are lucky to have a job.” or “It’s called work for a reason.” And I’m also betting these places have a lot of turnover—which is expensive if you’re constantly training new people. Plus, that “working memory” and retention of relevant information walks out the door with the employee.

Having strong interpersonal skills is so important if you have people working for you. You have to build a culture of trust and integrity. And be “ridiculously in charge.” Dr. Cloud says to “own it and create the culture you want.”

All in all it was a good read. He has a lot of good tips on how to create happy, high-performance employees.

Let us know what keeps you or your employees motivated.

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Rob Womack

If there’s anyone who can honestly say, “Been there, done that,” it’s Rob. After traveling the world for seven years in his 20’s, Rob went to LA and started working in film production. Then it was off to New York, where he learned how to program, which eventually brought him back home to Louisville to build websites. At Current360, Rob heads up our in-house production studio, creating all things digital for our clients — videos, commercials, radio spots, and a lot more. 

When he’s at home, Rob likes to create things like homemade kombucha and music.