Boundaries for Leaders – Book Review

by Feb 20, 2020

Recently our book club discussed the book Boundaries for Leaders by Dr. Henry Cloud. It is a very effective classic that discusses how leaders can implement boundaries for themselves and their teams. It also discusses how in making those boundaries, leaders can produce riveting results. I just wanted to share my thoughts on this book. It is a very good book for fresh starts with your teams. Here are my takeaways.

“You always get what you create and what you allow.” – Dr. Henry Cloud

A sobering theme throughout the book is the notion of as a leader you get what you create and what you allow. What that essentially means as leaders is that any environment that you see in your areas, divisions, and departments that you are the head of, are basically created and allowed by you as a leader. This can mean the culture, the responses of the teams, or the work ethic.

Understanding that you as a leader have the power to be ridiculously in charge of all aspects of your team, is empowering. However knowing how to wield that power in a way that would best support the teams is an art in which Dr. Cloud also helps leaders discover in his book.

Understanding When Boundaries are Needed

The first step to really understanding what boundaries are needed on your teams is to recognize the warning signs. Here is a list of warning signs to look out for on your team. These will help you to realize that boundaries need to be put in place.

  • Poor Performance
  • Not Focused
  • Negative Thinking
  • Lack of results
  • Imbalance of Power
  • Lack of Control
  • No celebrations
  • Low Morale
  • Scattered

Areas of Boundaries

If you see any of these characteristics that are apparent within your team, then you as a leader, you would benefit from creating healthy boundaries to help these improve. So how do you do that and create the boundaries. Well, Dr. Henry Cloud takes us through several different areas of boundaries that we as leaders can set with our teams.

  • Vision, Focus and Attention
  • Emotional
  • Unity and Connection
  • Thinking and Beliefs
  • Control and Empowerment
  • Performance and Development

The book takes you as a leader through all of these areas of focus. Showing you the importance of setting boundaries in these areas, and how to think about them for your team. Interlaced through the book are a variety of fantastic examples on how these boundaries or the lack their off are put into action.

Attending, Inhibiting, Remembering

I had so many key takeaways on this book, but one that stands out is the concept of attending, inhibiting, and remembering. As leaders we are called to show up, to attend to the vision, goals and challenges that our teams walk through on a daily basis. We are also called to inhibit those behaviors or actions that should not take place. Having a healthy workplace where everyone can feel safe and has boundaries on what should and should not be matters, and as leaders, we regulate this. Also, it is so easy to remember what you were doing from one quarter to the next, so leaders always need to ensure that the goals are always placed in front of their team so that they have a consistent vision as to what they are working to achieve.

Emotional, Connections, and Empowerment

Dr. Cloud unpacks emotional boundaries that we need to place on our team as well in his book. Understanding that having a positive emotional climate is essential for leaders because it has been proven that positivity has a direct impact on your team’s results. No matter now much your IQ score may be, having a negative attitude can do much more damage than your smarts can ever have.

Understanding that there are two components of our brains, the lower brain, and upper brain. The lower brain typically is all about flight, fight, freeze. There is no thought and completely all emotion with the lower brain. It is 100% reactive. However, the upper brain is where our logic, judgement, and reason reside. We are more creative and can solve problems better when tapping into our upper brain. As a leader, understanding this can help you but the appropriate boundaries in place regarding emotion on your teams.

Our teams really crave control, but really it is their brains. Their brains want something to be in control over. And when a leader understands that giving select control to their teams on certain teams will make them thrive – that leader will be giving out control all of the time.

Don’t Forget About You

In leadership, there is always the concept that leaders eat last. However, it is still very important although we are paying attention to others and helping your team meet your goals, that we shouldn’t forget about ourselves. When leading, don’t be limited by your fears. Grow past your fear to make the decisions that need to be made for your team. Dr. Cloud also presses leaders to figure out what drains you so that you can redirect your energy into more productive places.


Again, there was so much to unpack in Dr. Henry Clouds book. I can’t even begin to say how many good ideas and insightful takeaways that I had. Having a high performance team really depends on leaders setting the boundaries needed in order for them to thrive and be their best. I hope that this review inspires you to read the book and listen to the book club discussion that we had on it. Hope that you all join me for the next book club selection. Visit the book club page to take a look at what is up next!


P.S. Looking for a good list of boundaries to set as a leader? I give you 10 of then in this post.


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