As I drove home today, I remembered something… The state of the road I was on about a year and a half ago. It was just kilometers and more kilometers of one major construction site. (Actually, was the case in numerous places in and around Johannesburg) The particular thing I remembered was how the lanes were not clearly demarcated during the period.
The speed limit was reduced by at least 40km/h from what it was prior and after construction. There were either no lines or very unclear, tiny markers in place of the clear lines demarcating the lanes. One of the very prominent features on the motorway during that time were numerous motor accidents, as each driver determined his or her own lane.
Today, traffic was flowing and cars were even driving up to the ‘normal’ speed limit on the same road. It got me thinking about how simple lines made a difference. When we think “boundaries” we tend to think “restrictions” or limiters.
The Freedom Of Boundaries
If you consider this instance, when the “lines” or boundaries were clear it gave people confidence to drive even up to the speed limit. Some people went well over, that but you get the idea…
People tend to have confidence to act when they’re clear about the parameters they are to work in. When those you lead don’t have clear ‘parameters’ or ‘guides’, they’re not fully equipped to give their possible best.
Boundaries can be tools of liberation. When people know the boundaries their boundaries, they do not act burdened with fear of violating something or perhaps interfering in a detrimental way with other aspects of the team or project etc.
Don’t hear what I am not saying… I am not suggesting that you start looking for everywhere you can put some rules or policies. On the contrary, I am saying make sure that your team or individuals you lead are clear on what their scope of work or focus is or should be.
You may be thinking, “Blessing, I want to encourage innovation and creativity without too many restrictions and what you’re saying will get in the way.”
Well, it’s simple! Have you ever played a game where there were no rules? Even in that game there were rules, i.e. “There are no rules!” This is what you communicate to your team. That the rule is, “there are no rules”. This in itself is a boundary! They need to know that there are no rules, as you commission them to be creative and innovative.
It is the leader’s responsibility to ensure that everybody fully understands the scope of their responsibilities. You cannot expect specific results if you have not given specific parameters!
Some people on your team could be holding back, or working extremely hard in areas that they shouldn’t be, because they’re not operating with clear parameters. Clear boundaries will set people free to perform.
Clear boundaries will ensure that members of your team spend energy, time and other valuable resources in the right areas. Clear boundaries will make sure that you progress in the right direction. View boundaries not as restrictions but as markers of freedom.
Also published on Medium.