Exploring New Territories Without Overstepping Our Boundaries

Within every great leader there is the desire to expand his and explore new territories. There’s something about leadership that draws leaders towards growing their sphere of influence.

However, if a leader is not careful, he can easily overstep his boundaries. So that’s what we’re going to talk about today.

Boundaries are there for a reason

Image by Jenny Downing

Will you raise your hand if you want to expand your level of influence? Check! I see that hand go up.

Will you raise your hand if you want to move into new areas of leadership (New territories)? Check. I see that hand as well.

I know, as leaders, we’re always looking for new ways to grow our influence and enter into new territories. This can be difficult, especially if we’re not the main leader of an organization.

Do you get what I’m talking about?

You’re a new leader. You’re under the leadership authority of another leader. You’re unsure of your position in the organization.

And you know you shouldn’t try to overstep the boundaries that are placed upon your position. Yet you strive for that new challenge. The new title. The new responsibilities.

It’s okay to want all of that. You’re yearning for the influence you can have as a great leader. Those new territories come with that influence but you may not be ready yet.

So, how do we explore new territories without overstepping our boundaries?

Ask for a blessing from your leader: Maybe the authority in your life doesn’t know your aspirations. Maybe he doesn’t know you’re looking for more responsibility.

There’s an easy way to solve the problem. Man up and let your leader know you’re wanting to expand your leadership territory.

Share with him what is on your heart. Explain to him the training or education you’re receiving so you can step into this expanded role. Show him you’re serious.

Follow directions: We’re always going to be underneath someone’s authority. Sometimes this is hard for a leader to comprehend.

However, life goes a lot smoother when we realize we’re not the top dog and we never will be. There will be someone over us who may have to give us directions from time to time.

Look to the leaders in your life and be willing to submit to their authority.

Step forward: You may be timid and not want to rock the boat. Unfortunately, you’ll never expand your territory if this is your mindset.

Leaders rock the boat. They take chances. And they step forward when opportunities present themselves.

Search for chances to stretch your leadership muscles.

Stretching your leadership muscles may mean you have to take on undesirable tasks. You may have to work harder. Or even longer.

Do what it takes to show you’re willing.

Expanding our territories as leaders takes work. We must realize we have to present ourselves to those who are leaders above us. We must also be willing to submit to these same leaders. Lastly, you must be willing to step forward and take a chance.

When you combine these three actions, you’ll become a leader who can expand their territory without overstepping their boundaries.

Question: What other tips do you have for a leader looking to expand their territory? Please share your tip in the comment section below. It’ll help someone grow!


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • “Lastly, you must be willing to step forward and take a chance.”

    I think that captures everything – the willingness to initiate.

    • Thanks Wan. I think you’re right about the that line and initiation. Nothing gets done or advanced without starting.

  • Great topic Joe. I would add transparency to the list which would key off asking for your leader’s blessing. You don’t want to give the impression that you are just trying to climb the ladder or unseat you leader.

    Another one is to be sure you are working for excellence in your current role and finally, be willing to help out others that are outside your current role. In other words, be willing to serve and give away some of your time.

    • Jon, asking for a blessing from your leader is a great way. You’re also showing respect to him and he may be able to help you as you move to expand your territory.

  • Making sure you clearly communicating is key, everyone can then be on the same page.

    • I agree Kimanzi. I’m experiencing this one right now with a major IT project I’m working on. When things aren’t clearly communicated/documented, things can become very sticky!

  • Love this Joe. I had my own experience with #2Follow directions and #3 Step forward just last year 2013. I head up the purchasing department for the organization for which I work and the Chairman asked me to do a cost analysis on one of our major cost centers, then make a presentation to the Board Finance Committee. By me following his instructions and stepping forward to do the presentation, I subsequently received his blessing and was later appointed member of the Board Finance Committee, doing cost analysis on other cost centers and presenting the findings with recomendations to aid in the decision making process.

    One tip I would offer is to continually volunteer for tasks within your organization.. Someone will take notice eventually and give you the big break you’ve been waiting for.

    • Awesome Yvonne! Your willingness to step up and follow what the leader said had a major impact on your life, it appears.

  • The 4 Fence Posts of 100 Percent Responsibility.

    We are all 100% in control of our (1) attitude, (2) actions, (3) articulation, and (4) associations. If we prove responible in these 4 areas, our leadership fence posts will expand giving us more freedom and opportunities within those fence posts. If we prove irresponsible in these 4 areas, our leadership fence post will shrink giving us less freedom and opportunities.

  • Ellen Finkelstein

    I think that if you make it clear to your boss that your idea is in the best interests of the organization, then you’ll usually get a positive response so you can move forward with your idea. (Coming here from Ultimate Blog Challenge)

  • Before stepping into new levels of leadership we MUST make sure we have a high standard of excellence and are delivering results in the areas we are already placed in. We can’t increase to new levels unless we are being good stewards with what we have. Great post!

    • Excellence is important Dan. Thanks for adding it to the list.

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