Why Highly Capable Women In Leadership Struggle So Much With Boundaries

In today's episode, we're going to explore some very concrete reasons why in-demand female leaders like you so often struggle with boundaries. Boundaries, why are boundaries such an issue? Okay, so we're going to talk about it, and it's going to make a lot more sense to you why this continues to be an ongoing challenge and some steps that you can take starting today to begin to make this a little bit easier for you.

When we're talking about female leaders, we're talking about women who are incredibly creative, who on some level know how to be assertive and get their point across and drive ideas, projects, make things happen. So we're talking about ultimate problem solvers, folks who can see the issue, they can see the big picture, they can see the details, and they can come up with really creative and effective solutions that will help to bring about a result or to solve an ongoing issue.

Female leader feeling uncertain about how to express herself.

And so it makes a lot of sense that women like this, women like you, would so often find yourselves struggling with not being able to effectively hold your own boundaries when it comes to work and relationships. What I mean by that is when you have something that a lot of people want, then you're going to find that people are often making requests of your time, of your ideas, your thoughts. They want to pick your brain, they want to be around you, they want you on their team, they want you on their project, they want you to solve their problem.

So having this competence, this is where we kind of have almost like this curse of competence where you are so good at what you do that more and more people want you to do it. And what I find with the women that I work with is that it's not often just one area of your life. If you are really effective at solving problems, at providing creative solutions in your workplace, well, then people in your family would like you to help them out too.

And if you're really great at doing that for your friends, the odds are that you're doing that in your other community settings, whether that's the school board or your church or something like that.

It just tends to follow you around because it's not just something that you might have a degree in, even if you do have a degree in something related to that. It's not just something that you do for work; it's actually who you are. Oftentimes the things that we do for a living are related to just who we are, right? Our natural gifts, talents, and abilities.

Once someone can pick that up from you and they sense that in you, it's going to be very tempting for them to want to experience some of your expertise in their own life because you have something that they want, you have something that they don't have. So that's the thing, right? You're in a situation where you actually embody the very thing that someone else desires, that many other people desire. And so they are making lots of requests from you in order to borrow that gift or ability or that talent from you.

Solving problems for the team at work, even on the weekends.

And that's natural, right? People see something they like, they're attracted to it, they're attracted to you. It's very natural for them to have a desire to experience more of you in their life. The challenge is, of course, that you're not just a problem solver. You're not just a solution generator, right? You're a whole person. You're a human being who has your own needs, your own personal goals, your own personal desires that have nothing to do with goals, right?

You have desires for how you want to use your time and your energy and how you want to rest that have nothing to do with solving someone else's problems or producing more and more stuff, right? Because you're not a machine, you're a human being. You're not just there to work and spit out ideas. You're not ChatGPT, right? So that's the issue, that while it's really great that you have these talents and you're so gifted in the way that you are, and there really isn't anything wrong with that, right?

I use the curse of competence just because it's something that you can immediately understand. You immediately know what I'm talking about. But I don't think it's actually a curse. I think what you have is something very special. We need more female leaders like you. Now what we also need is for these female leaders to know how to protect themselves, how to guard their time, how to guard their mental space. You need to be able to do those things for yourself so that you're not just constantly giving yourself away in a way that drains you and leaves you with nothing for yourself or nothing for the personal relationships that you actually do want to pour into more.

I know for me, I have my husband and I have my sons. And my sons are certainly at that age where they want a lot of my time and my attention. If I'm drained, if I've given away everything over the course of the day to clients, to friends, family members, community members, strangers on the street, then I'm not going to have anything left, right? Because I'm not this infinite source of just like stuff and energy. I have a lot of limitations.

And also, as much as I love being around people and I really love interacting with people and hearing their stories and helping them and

Time as the ultimate currency that we don't want to waste and we can't have back.

serving them, I also really like my own company, funnily enough. I enjoy my own company. I enjoy my own time as well. And I know that I need to rest. I need to do my self-massage. I need to read science fiction books, you know, whatever. I take long showers because those are the things that also feel good to me, right? It's not just that I want to be pouring out all the time. I'm not a water well, right? And even those can be overused. At some point, I have to replenish, and so do you.

The beautiful thing about this is that as female leaders, when you start to take better care of yourselves, because you are so sought after, because you are so in demand, the way that you handle yourself, the way that you, you know, hold effective boundaries, just protecting your space, protecting your time so that not all of your time is caught up in doing, doing, doing. Because you are so sought after, people are watching you, and they're watching how you treat yourself. They're watching how you divide up your time. They're watching how you put safeguards in place so that you're not constantly being emptied by other people's requests.

As they're watching you, they're learning, right? It's shaping them. They're installing a new program. They're installing a new idea based on your actions about how they too can conduct themselves, how they too can set boundaries and safeguards in place. It gives this idea, plants this idea in their mind, and eventually, what you are doing or what you will be doing, right? Because the whole point of this podcast is the fact that most of us as female leaders struggle with this and are not actually doing this. But once you do start enacting these kinds of techniques and strategies, you will eventually get those who are watching you to the point where they just see that as commonplace.

And not just come in place for you, but for those who are really wise, for those who are really paying attention and who really want to learn, they will quickly catch on to the fact that this is something that they should be doing for themselves too.

So, as opposed to being disappointed because you can't come through for them or being annoyed at you or thinking negative things about you, like, wow, she's so cold, she's so withholding, rigid, you know, whatever, folks who are sort of less enlightened might believe about you. Those who are really paying attention and who are really great learners will see, oh, okay, I get what she's doing there. That's right. She's making sure that she places limits around herself, protections around herself so that she can actually be at her best so that she can operate in a way that is optimal.

A balanced women in the professional world.

And I get that because she's taking care of herself, right? It's not just that she looks good on the outside or that she performs so well on this high level. She also knows how to take care of her own needs. She knows how to pay attention to her energy levels. She knows how to pay attention to when she's more in a creative mode or in a review mode or a consuming mode. She knows how to pay attention to where she's at. And so she responds to herself accordingly and she makes sure that other people also respond to her accordingly.

This is truly powerful, right? We might think that, oh, I have to respond to everything. I have to give everybody what they want so that I can continue to maintain those relationships or excel in this field or have people offer me the opportunities. I promise you though that the opportunities and the relationships are not going to disappear just because you treat yourself like an actual human being, okay?

And quite honestly, if anything does disappear, then you're welcome, right? You're welcome because those are the things, those are the situations, the jobs even, the communities that were only looking to take from you in a way that wasn't sustainable. As a female leader, you're looking for ways that are going to be sustainable for the long term so that you can do the things that you are so good at doing, so you can operate in your zone of genius for as long as possible, right?

Being able to do that in a sustainable way that doesn't burn you out, that doesn't just leave you in a state of chronic high stress is very important. We know that being in a chronic state of stress, of repeatedly burning out, that these are the types of situations and patterns, you know, lifestyle patterns that create really significant health conditions that tear down intimate relationships, that really get in the way of a fulfilling connection between parent and child if you have one.

It's really important that you protect these other aspects of your life and that you also protect that relationship with yourself because those are the parts of your life that are going to be there even after the job is done, right? Even after you retire, even after you do early retirement or switch careers, like, those are the things that are still going to be there. And you want to make sure that you don't get to that point in the future and look back and think, wow, I wish I had said no more often. I wish I had said no to more people because now what I'm left with is trying to clean up this mess that I've created that I didn't even realize I was creating at the time.

This isn't to scare you, right? This is to remind you that you have a choice, that you don't have to give all parts of yourself away 25 hours out of every eight days, you know, I'm exaggerating, in order to please other people and to stay relevant. In fact, the more that you are able to learn how to develop safeguards on your time and your energy, your mental space, your emotional health, the more equipped you will be to have an even greater impact because your energy will be taken care of, right? You'll have a greater sense of presence when you do show up because you'll be full, your cup will be full. And you'll have the presence of mind to truly give where you are in that moment, as opposed to being split in several different pieces trying to do it all at once, like a chicken with your head cut off. That is not a good feeling.

And I know that because I've been there, right? I'm saying all these things to you, and the reason I can speak to them is that I relate, right? I relate. And so I want you to feel like you have full permission to protect the things that matter most to you and to know and have the confidence that opportunities and, you know, the ability to expand beyond your current position, all those things, they're not going to go away just because you learn to say no. It'll actually allow you to say yes to the right things and to show up in the right energy and to deliver in a way that just blows people out of the water like you tend to do, right? You tend to impress, right? We just want to protect that and make sure that you don't burn yourself out in the process because it's entirely unnecessary, right?

So if you have any further questions about that or you want to learn more about how I work with the woman that I work with, be sure to reach out. You can head to my website, lindasanderville.com, and you can see my programs there. I do offer group coaching as well as private one-on-one to help you to make these leaps and to shift and rebuild your lifestyle from the ground up so that you are not trapped in this cycle that is entirely unnecessary, incredibly harmful, and really that you don't need in order to continue to expand your impact and your empire and whatever else it is that you want to do because you are a human being first.


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All right, I will talk with you in the next episode.