Leaders who strive for cohesive work environments consider all angles of this framework. Most leaders strategically aligned to work and nonwork aspects consider setting boundaries the most crucial point in this process. Overlap of work environments and team building events most likely mesh in most circumstances, and it’s up leaders to ensure that the imperatives of setting boundaries are understood.
Most research on workplace boundaries focuses on job responsibilities and work structures and their associated variables. These studies compare the roles of employees and their duties at home. One recent study by Gardner et al. (2021) centered on the boundary management styles of employees. Citing Kossek & Lautsch, 2012, Gardner et al. (2021) noted that “Boundary management styles are defined as the techniques employees use to separate roles in order to attend to work, family, and nonwork duties.” (pg. 132).
Closely associated with this theme, a brief case study concerning a leader and associates is discussed in this article. For example, some employees are eager to assist or help outside of regular work duties. In this case, a manager may share that he/she is moving from one home to the other. Employees who genuinely want to help may offer to assist the manager in the moving process. Moving at any time is not the most straightforward task; therefore, the manager/leader may be inclined to accept the employees’ offer and pay each person a small fee to express gratitude. But would this decision be ethical? Of course not! The leader who declines the proposal is the leader who understands the importance of boundaries. And, with a few promotions and pay raises, the employees who offered to assist with the manager’s move continue to work the same way as intended in the beginning.
But a few years later, the leader notices that one or two people in the original group have begun overstepping significant decisions. The employees start to create untruths, blame others for their mistakes, and refuse to follow basic guidelines. So much so that these instances escalate to human resources. The employees then become even more defiant. Nonetheless, the leader can breathe a sigh of relief that he/she followed all protocols and maintained boundaries throughout employment. Should the employee be let go from the organization, the leader who followed company guidelines from the beginning, prevents major issues from occurring.
Maintaining work and nonwork guidelines should never be based on instincts alone. To prevent future employee-to-leadership problems, it is advisable always to follow written procedures created by your organization. The boundary theory  relevant to the changing roles of employees, discussed its difficulties when staff members must move between one role (work-life) and another (e.g., family life). Boundaries regarding leaders and employees are more straightforward and do not require much lament. Also, drawing from the study by Ashforth et al. 2000, the boundary theory shares that people create and sustain limitations between life spheres to simplify their environment.
For essential simplicity and peace of mind, setting boundaries is one of the most imperative aspects of leadership. Never take shortcuts or be derailed from common goals or company expectations. Always be steadfast in this one, but what is considered, a vital part of leadership survival.
Dr. M. Charlotte Oliver
Gardner, D. M., Lauricella, T., Ryan, A. M., Wadlington, P., & Elizondo, F. (2021). Managing boundaries between work and nonwork domains: Personality and job characteristics and adopted style. Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology, 94(1), 132–159. https://doi.org/10.1111/joop.12339
 Kossek, E. E., & Lautsch, B. A. (2012). Work-family boundary management styles in organizations: A cross-level model. Organizational Psychology Review, 2, 152–171. https://doi.org/10.1177/ 2041386611436264
 Ashforth, B. E., Kreiner, G. E., & Fugate, M. (2000). All in a day’s work: Boundaries and micro role transitions. Academy of Management Review, 25, 472–491. https://doi.org/10.5465/AMR. 2000.3363315