Boundary Operations: A Big Part of First-Line Leadership

Conversations with facilitators of CREW groups underscore boundary management at the core of first-line leadership. This role becomes especially important for innovation.

Maintaining a Boundary. A CREW group is a setting where team members talk about their working relationships. To be a safe place where people can speak frankly, leaders need to enforce ground rules for showing respect.

Bringing People across the Boundary. Innovation needs to grow. Having started something new and exciting, leaders recruit more employees into the CREW groups. Requiring attendance doesn’t work so well in this day and age, so effective communication about the benefits of participating is essential.

Spreading the Word. To build from a small group to a system-wide innovation, leaders take a new idea from the protected setting of the CREW group to apply those principles within the day-to-day slog of the organization’s work. Big change requires crossing the boundary from the safe setting to the larger world.

A CREW Facilitator talked so enthusiastically about the excitement of seeing one of her group members switch into an active listening mode when challenged at a team meeting. What previously would have prompted backing down or resentment shifted into meaningful dialog.

First line leaders are the pivot point in cultural change in today’s organizations.

What have you witnessed about change where you work?

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