Leading Across Boundaries
by Nick Desrochers
At Fox Valley Technical College in Clintonville, we had the privilege of hearing from Lyna M. Matesi, a professor from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. Lyna shared the ways we can lead by going across boundaries.
We have to span our boundaries outside of our circle to make a project work. Boundaries help us decide what might be safe and also what might not be safe. In spanning across our boundaries we have to be sensitive to the languages others might be speaking. Boundary spanning is the capability to create direction, alignment, and commitment across boundaries in service of a higher vision or goal.
Five types of boundaries
- Vertical: This is a positional boundary. Leading across levels, rank, and authority.
- Horizontal: These are the people we have to partner with to get the project done.
- Stakeholder: The organizations and partners, like alliances, networks, customers, sub-contractors that are used outside of the circle to get the project done.
- Demographic: Boundaries between diverse groups, even the full human diversity from gender and race to education.
- Geographic: Where you deliver your service or lead across locations and cultures.
These are the five boundaries that may cause some challenges and leadership skills for us. Working effectively into or across these boundaries may be difficult because we may not feel comfortable with it. That is why we need to be sensitive to the languages others speak – both literally and figuratively.