“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” (Psalm 32:8 NIV)

Leaders lead people, and it is the people who get it all done. And to get it done, they have to be led in a way that they can actually perform and use all their horsepower. Said another way, their brains need to work. You can cast a great vision, get the right talent, and yet be leading in ways that people’s brains literally cannot follow, or sometimes even make work, much less their hearts. What I have come to believe is this: while leadership as a discipline is very, very important, the personal and interpersonal sides of leadership are every bit as important as the great leadership themes of vision, execution, strategy, and the like. Leaders can motivate or demotivate their people…They can create a culture that augments high performance, accountability, results, and thriving, or cause a culture to exist in which people become less than who they are or could be. There are several aspects of a leader’s behavior that make everything work, and one of those is his or her “boundaries.” A boundary is a structure that determines what will exist and what will not…The leaders determine what will exist and what will not.

As I meet with leaders and their companies, I find that more often than not, they have smart plans. They know their business, or they would not be where they are. They are strategic, talented, gifted, and experienced. Their “business” expertise got them to where they are, but as they rise to more significant positions of leadership, they need other skills in addition to what their business smarts can provide. They need to be able to lead people to get results…It is about leading the “right people,” empowering them to find and to do the “right things” in the “right ways” at the “right times.” That is what will bring a plan to real results.

Boundaries are made up of two essential things: what you create and what you allow…Leaders define the boundaries, and successful leaders define them well in several key areas:

  1. The vision, the focus, the attention, and the activities that create forward movement are defined by leaders.
  2. The emotional climate of the organization and its culture is created and sustained by leaders.
  3. The unity and connectedness of the organization and the teams are built or fragmented by leaders.
  4. The thinking and beliefs of the organization are sown and grown by leaders.
  5. The amount and kinds of control and empowerment that people have been given and required by leaders.
  6. The performance and development of their teams and direct reports are stewarded by leaders.
  7. The leadership of oneself which entails establishing one’s own boundaries and stewardship of the organization is required by leaders.

You may be beginning to lead something new, or you may be focusing on turning something around and making it better. A leader’s clear boundaries are often what an organization is waiting for, and when it happens, it can create the most valuable company in the world. When a leader steps up and leads, and sets boundaries that provide clarity that cuts through the noise, it is a new day.

“Good boundaries, both those that help us manage ourselves and lead others, always produce freedom, not control.”
― Henry Cloud, Boundaries for Leaders: Results, Relationships, and Being Ridiculously in Charge


  • God created humanity with a purpose and then established boundaries for us. He also gave us considerable freedom within those constraints. Compare and contrast what God has done for us with what Dr. Cloud is suggesting for healthy organizations.
  • God also created mankind in the image and likeness of Himself. One of those elements is that we are creative beings. Dr. Cloud suggests that in the right environment people’s brains will do what they are designed to do: create new ways of doing things and totally new things to do. Has that been the reality in your leadership experience? Describe a time when you saw people’s creative nature burst forth. If you’ve never seen it, why do you think that might be the case?

WATCH – https://vimeo.com/79697729

excerpts by Dr Henry Cloud