q: how do I set boundaries at work but still progress and be seen as passionate?

boundaries leadership Aug 17, 2022

By Alison Rice

Dearest you.

I'd like to start by offering you what I hope is a fresh perspective on setting boundaries at work and what impact those boundaries might have on your progression within the business:

It's not about your boundaries so much as it is about your leader's personal experience with establishing and upholding their own.

Oftentimes (but not always), leaders promote the behavioural traits and characteristics they value most in themselves. This is really normal, but isn't super effective when it comes to building diverse and energetically stable teams.

Start to observe their actions and decisions more closely and then use that intel to begin to form some assumptions about what they value the most. From this viewpoint, you can decide if your values align and if this is a leader you'd like to continue working under long-term. What we need is more leaders promoting people who have communicated and upheld evolutionary work-life boundaries, and being loud about the why behind those promotions when they do.

While it might not seem like it, there has been a true shift in power in the job market recently. There's a pretty frightening skills shortage in Australia and this demand for talent has brought the employee's mental, emotional, physical and even spiritual needs back into focus.

We are not what we do for a living, and establishing and upholding boundaries that prioritise our peace should be rewarded. We can get the job done without becoming the job.

I think you have a couple options here:

The first being to sit down with your manager and have an honest conversation about boundaries. Ask them what their relationship with boundaries has been like during their own career, and perhaps what they've learnt about the link between work-life boundaries and sustainable success. You're planting a seed here, but you're also establishing common ground which will lead to a deeper rapport with your manger. The other outcome of this honest conversation is you'll very likely move your manager into self reflection and internal inquiry, which will help them become a more aware and thoughtful leader.

But overall I would just see where the conversation goes. Let it unfold. Be open and curious. No other agenda than just seeking to understand their relationship with work-life boundaries, and ask if they have any advice for you. This way, if you do decide to establish, communicate and uphold firmer work-life boundaries, they'll know why. When we know the why behind an ask or an action, we automatically come to it with more compassion. There's also a strong chance you'll gain a deeper respect from your manager through this process and I wouldn't be surprised if they begin to uphold your boundaries on your behalf when you're not in the room.

If you don't have much luck with this first approach and you have identified that your manager lacks boundaries and isn't doing any meaningful work on themselves, it would be evolutionary to start exploring job opportunities with a company that has a culture built on balance and boundaries. These types of organisations are out there and I would suggest scripting some questions to take into the interview process with you so you feel prepared to vocalise your values and the workplace environment you're seeking in this next professional chapter.

If you find success in either approach, consider sharing it with your friends. The more of us modelling professional peace, the faster hustle culture will transmute into something far more evolutionary, regenerative and true.

Hope helpful.

Alison xo

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