In today’s work culture, maintaining boundaries and a balance between workload demands and close relationships with our team can be difficult but its not impossible. While strong teamwork is essential for the overall success of a business or project, personal boundaries need to be established in order to ensure goals are met in a timely and efficient manner. The following quote is from Facebook Group Member Valarie and her question revolving around just this challenge:

Knowing your direct reports well without overextending yourself. Patrick Lencioni talks about anonymity leading to job misery and I agree with this. I know my large team fairly well. Recently implemented middle managers as team leads due to there not being enough of me to go around. I want to continue to foster relationships with the new employees so that I will have the same level of relational vibe that I have with most of my team. I am struggling with ways to do this as it takes a lot of time. I know it doesn’t have to; however, I am finding that once I open the door to getting to know them more, they want more and more time with me and so I am wondering about ways to provide better communication and clarity in those earlier meetings as I think I may be unintentionally creating the impression that I am available to them more often than my time allows or that I was initially available and now I’m not as available and that can be confusing and send a message I am not intending to send.

For context, I’m in my 4th year of leadership and I have a team of about 20. They all reported directly to me until January so I am wondering if some of this is just the shifting that’s occurring.

Thanks in advance!!

Question from Valarie

So lets dive into how I believe that its best for leaders to tackle this challenge with a number of tactical pieces of advice for her!

Timestamped Overview

00:00 Valerie’s question leads to team management discussion.
06:43 Empower team leads for daily interaction success.
09:02 Support team leads, redirect concerns, manage effectively.
14:28 Get out, talk, and genuinely care for people.
15:26 Valerie, prioritize and use time blocking.
18:48 Help a friend, share, subscribe, achieve success.

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The following is an AI generated transcript which should be used for reference purposes only. It has not been verified or edited to reflect what was actually said in the podcast episode. 


Scott McCarthy [00:00:00]:
On episode 251 of the peak performance leadership podcast, I go solo again. And this time, I’m gonna answer one of your questions, and it’s all about setting boundaries with your team while remaining engaged. That’s right, folks. It’s all about setting boundaries today. Are you ready for this? Alright. Let’s do it.

Scott McCarthy [00:00:29]:
Welcome 1, welcome all to the Peak Performance Leadership podcast, a weekly podcast series dedicated to helping you hit peak performance across the 3 domains of leadership. Those being leading yourself, leading your team and leading your organization. This podcast couples my 20 years of military experience as a senior Canadian army served with world class guests bringing you the most complete podcast of leadership going. And for more, feel free to check out our web And with that, let’s get to the show.

Scott McCarthy [00:01:12]:
Yes. Welcome 1. Welcome all. It is your chief leadership officer, Scott McCarthy. It’s so good to have you here. And I’m back from vacation. I don’t know if you’re tracking or not, but I spent a week in lovely, sunny, and most importantly, warm Mexico. So for all the Mexican listeners out there, thank you for your hospitality.

Scott McCarthy [00:01:35]:
You have such a lovely country, especially this time of year for us. Frigid freezing Canadians. So week off solid, recharging the batteries. And if you haven’t taken a vacation lately, as a leader, you might wanna consider that. You know? It’s just so good. So good for the body, so good for the soul just to take some time off, recharge, and actually come back more effective. That’s where I’m at right now. So enough about that.

Scott McCarthy [00:02:04]:
Today’s episode, we’re gonna talk about boundaries between you and your team members. If you’ve been want listening to the show any amount of time, you know I’m a huge advocate for being there for your team, taking care of your team, so on and so forth. That being said, you have work to do. I get it. You have reports. You have, you know, TPS reports you need to fill out. You have Excel docs you need to work. Whatever.

Scott McCarthy [00:02:35]:
Right? Whatever your job is. Maybe you need to do sales calls. Who knows? But moral story is this, you have work to do. And, yes, being there for your team definitely part of the job, but you have other aspects of the job too. And this question came up actually in our free Facebook group. And if you’re not part of this group, you can just simply go to lead don’t boss forward slash group. On Facebook. It’s called leadership skills for managers to be leaders, not bosses.

Scott McCarthy [00:03:06]:
So this question popped up. And and, Valerie, thanks for the question, by the way. I I truly appreciate it, and, as well, I appreciate your, discussions that you have in the group. But, anyway, let’s let’s jump in here. Knowing your direct reports well without overextending yourself, Patrick. I I have no idea if I spelled that or pronounced that name right. But, anyway, Patrick talks about anatomy leading to job misery, and I agree with this. I know my large team fairly well recently implemented middle managers as team leads due to there not being enough of me to go around.

Scott McCarthy [00:03:48]:
I can totally empathize with you on that one, Valerie. Okay. Look. She continues. I want to continue to foster relationships with new employees so that I have the same level rational vibe that I have with most of my team. I am struggling ways to do this as it takes a lot of time. I know it doesn’t have to. However, I’m finding that once I open the door to getting them to know them more, they want more and more time with me.

Scott McCarthy [00:04:16]:
So I’m wondering about ways to provide better communication and clearly in those earlier meetings as I think I may be unintentionally creating the impression that I’m available to them more often than my time allows or that I was initially available and now not as available. That can be confusing and send a message I am not intending to send. So for context, I’m in my 4th year of leadership and have a team of about 20. They’ve all reported directly to me until January. So I’m wondering if some of this is just shift is just the shifting that is occurring. Thanks in advance, Valerie. This is Valerie, again, thank you for your question. This is absolutely a common place.

Scott McCarthy [00:05:08]:
You’re not alone. That’s the good news. Right? The good news is you’re not alone. The second good thing is you’ve already started to form your own solution here. It’s right at the end. Yes. There is definitely some of, we’ll call it, growing pains going on. Okay? And that is because you’ve changed the structure of your team.

Scott McCarthy [00:05:36]:
Before, all 20, by the way, that is a ton of direct reports. Don’t really recommend it. But you had a team of 20 reporting to you. Now you’ve made some changes. You have team leads. Awesome. And, you know, before, person was directly reporting you. But now they have a team lead in between you and them.

Scott McCarthy [00:05:59]:
So if in the past, you were always open, available to them, but now you have this team lead. It’s gonna take a little bit of time. So here are a few thoughts from me about this whole situation. And and for any leader out there, how you go about making sure that you’re there for your team, but don’t extend yourself. And these are just suggestions. Take pick, choose which ones work for you, which may not work for you, maybe tweak a little bit. I am never going to say this is the one size fits all solution because that doesn’t exist, especially leadership. So here we go.

Scott McCarthy [00:06:43]:
So the first thing is you have team leads now. Awesome. What you need to do is make sure they’re empowered. Make sure they’re the ones who are interacting with their teams on a day to day basis. So, effectively, what you want to achieve is is pushing your team leads to be how you were with their teams. It is now up to them to be the ones who are there day in, day with their teams, senior teams, talking to their team members, making sure they’re all good, hearing any complaints or any concerns, what have you. They’re the ones that need to be doing this constant face to face interaction with their team members. If you haven’t picked up, I’ve been really emphasizing their their team members, their teams.

Scott McCarthy [00:07:43]:
It is now their teams. You’ve chopped your team up into subteams. So let’s say you have 4 middle managers, and you you said there’s about 20, so let’s say there’s 20 plus you, so 21 a part of your whole team. You know, you include it. So you have 4 team managers. That means they have 4 subordinates each. Okay, they’re responsible to know the intimate details of their 4 people day in, day out. K? You need to empower them to make sure they’re doing that.

Scott McCarthy [00:08:14]:
Now as you go through this transition, as you move, obviously, people are still going to come to you because you’re there. You were their superior before, their direct supervisor. No. You’re not. Change is hard. I’m wrong. What I would suggest to you is in a very, calm and, you know, supportive way it’s is that when these subordinates come to you, my first question to them if I was in your shoes would be, did you talk to your team lead? And if the answer is no, then support your team leads. You go, I need you to talk to your team lead because they and I need to be on the exact same page.

Scott McCarthy [00:09:02]:
So if you bypass them and you come to me and they have concerns that I’m not aware of, then that’s gonna take us off the same page, which is not gonna be good or helpful to anyone. It’s Okay. Support your team leads, but support your people at the same time. You’re not saying no to whatever they’re asking or that you’re closing the door on them. However, what you’re doing is redirecting them where they should be going in the 1st place, which is now the team leads. So as you go through this and you have, like, your team meetings and stuff like this, and you have you have a a large group, but at the same time, it’s still relatively small. You’re talking about 20 people. It’s large to be the supervisor of 20 people to rack, but now that you have some team leads, it’s gonna be a lot easier to manage and as well as you can get the team together.

Scott McCarthy [00:09:56]:
So what you can easily do is get the team together and, you know, emphasize empathize, sorry, empathize with them, that you understand where they’re coming from. You understand the growing pains. This is not you, being angry, upset, or calling people out. However, this is how we’re going to move forward. Is that, yes, you’re still available. Yes, you still care about your team. Yes. You’re still going to see your team and talk to your team and so on and so forth, but their first stop needs to be their new team leads.

Scott McCarthy [00:10:38]:
Right? And then what you’re gonna do is your team members, you know, the subordinates, the team members are gonna slowly start going to their team leads with all of these things, which, of course, is going to free up your time. And then if you empower your team leads to deal with the situations, to handle them, to take care of them, delegate properly to them, you’re going to find that the demands on you will get less, which will then, in turn, free up your time to think strategically for your team. K? So these are some ideas right now for you on, you know, right now, kind of communication. Right? So let’s talk about a few other tactical things you can do. And that is, you know, when you get new people in. Yes. Sure. Absolutely meet with them.

Scott McCarthy [00:11:31]:
Talk to them. However, manage the expectations. Just like I said, so as you sit with a new person, you talk to them, and you interview them on the 1st day or whatever, get to know them. Then what you do is, you know, explain the expectations. The expectation is is that they bring their issues to their team lead. Yes. You were available, but they bring their issues to their team leads first vice coming to you direct. If your team lead is unavailable for some reason, maybe you can say okay.

Scott McCarthy [00:12:05]:
You can you know, and it’s super important. Yes. Feel free to come to me. But team lead is their 1st point of contact. Okay? So you when you have people coming, that’s how you can kinda handle that. Now I feel, you know, the leadership flowing out of you and that you want to be there for your team members. And more importantly, what I feel out of your text here is that you want to be there and you want them to believe that you’re there for them. And you can definitely still achieve this.

Scott McCarthy [00:12:45]:
Okay? You can definitely still achieve this. One way is simply not spending a 100% of your time in your office. Okay? Take a little bit of time throughout the week. I don’t know exactly the layout. I mean, if you’re in a office building okay. This depends, but I’m gonna give you a story. When I was a commander of of the unit of 200. We were spread across 9 buildings.

Scott McCarthy [00:13:10]:
We’re divided up into, basically 4 subteams. Of that 200 member team, each had you know, 3 of them had about 60 to 70 people each. The the other one was smaller, around 10. And we were spread across 9 different buildings. So it’s hard. Like, just like you, wanna have a connection with my people, want to know them, want to hear what’s going on, so on and so forth. So that said, every week I made sure to get out of my office and go walk the floor. Go visit a few of the different buildings, especially ones I didn’t work in.

Scott McCarthy [00:13:46]:
Okay? Alright. And walk the floor and talk to the people and go around and see how things are going. And that enabled me to keep that connection. It was like an hour a week I would take. Now can you spare an hour a week? My an my my assumption is, yes, you probably can because you’re probably spending more than an hour a week right now. Okay? And then as different issues popped up with our team members, you know, I made sure that their team leads were enabled to handle it. And if they felt like they didn’t have it or it was outside their scope or whatever, it would come up to me eventually. And then from there, we work on the solution together for the member.

Scott McCarthy [00:14:28]:
Okay? But this is a kind of way how you get manage some people refer to as management by walking around. I just call it walking the floor. And that is getting out from your desk and being seen, talking to people, and, you know, just see how things are going. And the biggest thing here is try to avoid the work talk. Now with your people, you probably want to have the work talk with them to see how things are going and stuff like this, but at the same time and I’m sure you’re doing this based off the tone I get out of your text is, you know, how’s family life going? Because that impacts our work too. Right? And see how their life is going and how things are going with them and so on and so forth. Genuinely care for them. And when people see you doing this and feel you actually being there for them and caring about them.

Scott McCarthy [00:15:26]:
They’ll understand that you don’t have time to have your door open for them every single minute of the day. Okay? And then the final bit of advice I have for you, Valerie, is if all else fails, you know, this kinda goes against, what I like to call open door policy per se, where people can come by anytime and say, hey. I need to talk, but blocking time off to say that you’re unavailable. If you’re having a hard time, you know, to keep up with what you need to do because in the end, that’s gonna affect your team as well, time blocking is a great tactic, great strategy. One of which many members of our mastermind community, the leader growth mastermind, implement it when we went through this as as part of the content we did back in the spring, I believe, of last year. So you can look into time blocking and saying, okay. I’m available from this time to that time, or I’m, more importantly, unavailable during these times. And that’s when you kinda kinda focus on whatever it is you need to do.

Scott McCarthy [00:16:45]:
So maybe that tactic can help you too. But I would suggest that’s probably the last very last ditch effort per se. So I hope these different suggestions for you work. Again, you know, look at them, overlay your situation to them. How might it work. Who knows? You didn’t give me exactly a lot of detail about how your team is structured. Are you a remote team? Are you not remote team? Are you a hybrid team? Are you spread across multiple locations. Are you not? Are you together? You know, these different things, all these different factors play in.

Scott McCarthy [00:17:22]:
So the moral story is here, you need to take your actual situation, overlay the advice I’ve just given you, and then in turn, decide what’s best for you. And ladies and gentlemen, this goes for everyone who’s listening here for and not just Valerie. Okay. So if you find yourself in a very similar situation, do exactly that. Overlay this advice to your situation and, you know, see what works. And guess what? You can always tweak. You can always change. Alright? It’s you can always change because that is adaptive leadership, and that’s what we do.

Scott McCarthy [00:18:03]:
It’s okay, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for tuning in. Thank you for listening. Appreciate you all. And as always, lead, don’t boss, and take care it’s

Scott McCarthy [00:18:17]:
And that’s a wrap for this episode, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening. Thank you for supporting the peak performance leadership podcast. But you know what you could do to truly support the podcast. And, no, that’s not leaving a rating and review. It’s simply helping a friend, and that is helping a friend by sharing this episode with them if you think this would resonate with them and help them elevate their performance level. Whether that’s within themselves, their teams, or their organization. So do that.

Scott McCarthy [00:18:48]:
Help me. Help a friend it’s Win win all around. And, hey. You look like a great friend at the same time. So just hit that little share button on your app, it’s And then feel free to fire this episode to anyone that you feel would benefit from it. Finally, there’s always more. There’s always more lessons around being the highest performing leader that you can possibly be, whether that’s for yourself, your team, or your organization. So why don’t you subscribe? Subscribe to the show via moving forward leadership .comforward/subscribe.

Scott McCarthy [00:19:27]:
Until next time, weed, don’t boss, and thanks for coming out. Take care now.