As neuroscientists have shown in recent years, the very best leadership skills are rooted in how people think, in how our brains are constructed and how they operate. Our brains are designed to work in specific ways, in specific conditions, with specific requirements. When those conditions are met, smart and talented people flourish. They win.
On the other hand, when those conditions are not met, they flounder and do not perform up to their potential. It turns out that it really is all in your head—that is, your brain. It will not work well when leaders are doing things that inhibit brain functioning, or are leading teams and organizations in ways that literally make it impossible for people’s brains to work to their full potential. Let's take a look at how and why we need focused attention, positivity, unity, control and other factors in order to excel.
The work of leaders is always twofold: to make sure positive conditions exist, and to rid organizations of the negative elements that stand in the way of high performance. Just think of what is possible if the right conditions exist: innovation, creativity, problem-solving, goal orientation, planning and organizing, initiation and perseverance, adaptation, self-regulation and more. Think of what all that can bring to your bottom line if you tap into it.
As we look at how the boundaries a leader sets bring clarity, you will learn techniques and practices that will fill in some gaps, giving you clear leadership action steps to take. You will learn how to turn the tide that already exists. You will learn how to deal with the root causes of dysfunction and how to create immunity against these infectious agents. In doing so, you will also find new opportunities to grow and develop your leadership capacity while shining a light on some of the blind spots that may be preventing you from becoming a better version of yourself.
Sometimes the smartest and most talented leaders are very, very close to significant success, if they can get their “people issues” sorted out. I have seen them go from stuck and frustrated to focused and determined. And I have seen really great ones get even better. That’s my wish for you: to help you figure out where strong boundaries could make things better, creating more results for you and for your mission. In my book, I share some of the mistakes I’ve seen highly talented leaders make.
But I also share examples I’ve seen when working with great leaders—leaders who understand what it means to be “ridiculously in charge” and who embrace that role and the power that comes with it; leaders who understand that boundaries can extend the possibilities for greatness across an entire organization, opening up the door of possibility to all.
I have seen these boundaries work in great organizations, from global companies with billions and billions in revenue to smaller private companies. The principles are universal. Whatever you lead, you can make it thrive. You are ridiculously in charge.
The preceding is an excerpt from Dr. Henry Cloud’s book, Boundaries for Leaders. Dr. Cloud is a clinical psychologist with an extensive background in both the clinical and professional consulting world. The excerpt is courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers.