BOUNDARIES FOR LEADERS
By Henry Cloud; New York, NY: HarperCollins (2013); Reviewed by OSEI DANIELS
“You are ridiculously in charge!” This is one of the key phrases stated by Dr. Henry Cloud in his book Boundaries for Leaders. This book breaks down clearly how leaders are to set up appropriate boundaries with themselves and those they lead. Being “in charge” gives you the authority to accomplish exactly what you determine is important and the direction you want to take the team or organization.
This book, Boundaries for Leaders, has helped me embrace the fact that I’m in charge, and that it is completely OK to lead! Speaking the truth in love, clarifying responsibilities and literally asking people what I need them to do has been a big challenge for me in my life. I have always been more of the “worker bee” and not the leader. God has given me the opportunity to mature and grow into my leadership role as youth pastor.
As a pastor, my role is to develop relationships with young people, to
encourage them not only to give their lives to Jesus but to motivate them to want to serve Jesus by using their gifts and talents. From what I’ve
learned in this book, they also need to make sure they learn crystal clear boundaries for themselves, what they are and are not responsible for as
future leaders in their schools and communities. “No one else can set
these boundaries for you” (loc 2661) is a powerful principle that will help
them tremendously in their maturing into young adults and successful people, serving others out of love rather than fear.
In my marriage of nine years, I’ve been reminded of the amazing gift my
wife is to me as it relates to receiving feedback. Before, in my immaturity, I bristled at my wife’s suggestions, corrections, and input. But I’ve learned that I needed someone who knew me, believed in my abilities and didn’t want to harm me in any way. I’ve learned that I needed to open up. Dr. Cloud states that “good character . . . HUNGERS for feedback” (loc 2776). Being a trustworthy leader mandates good character, and having such a wise and insightful wife has already proven to me that I need to be open to feedback so that I can reflect the Christ-like character needed to lead my youth in the right way.
Because I am introverted, I’ve found it very difficult to open up
and interact with others. I’ve been a worker-bee type for as long as I can
remember, but once I was tasked with being a leader in various church positions, I learned fast that my success depended strongly upon how well I was able to inspire and motivate my team. That meant being around them and interacting with them more than sending e-mails and text messages— which is of course where I was more comfortable. But even more so, I learned that one-time events wouldn’t cut it, either! Dr. Cloud states that “you can’t grow a plant by dipping it into the dirt once a year. It takes an ongoing connection to build a root system” (loc 1156). Consistency in our interactions would make the difference in how well we gelled as a team and accomplished our established goals. I am still growing in this area, but I understand that I need it much more.
This book has solidified for me the almost terrifying but freeing truths of leadership, that I am “Ridiculously in Charge,” and it’s up to me to get the team going where it needs to go. I’m still learning how to shift my mind
from the worker-bee to that of the leader, putting first things first in
establishing the goal of what we’re trying to accomplish, and developing a roadmap for each step of how we’ll be getting to our destination. I’ve
learned that my personal boundary is that of not going into worker-bee
mode, of staying in my lane and giving everyone the confidence that not
only do I know where we’re going but have come up with a way to get there, of seeking input from my team on how to get there more effectively, of giving them direct impact on our success and not trying to do it all myself. As I continue to strive to be a leader with boundaries, another one of Dr. Cloud’s profound truths is that “leaders get what they create, or what they allow” (loc 2163). By God’s grace, with input from the church staff as a whole, I have to literally create ahead of time what I believe God wants us to accomplish as a department.
OSEI DANIELS serves as Lay Youth Pastor for the Takoma Park Seventh-day Adventist Church in Washington, DC.