Monica Rougeau

BOUNDARIES: The Fine Line Between Being a Bridge Builder and an Enabler


Last month, we explored the concept of leadership as a role that often involves being a bridge builder—connecting people, ideas, and visions. This ability to unify is a remarkable and necessary strength, but it’s essential to remember that even bridges have boundaries. As leaders, the weight of responsibility and the challenge of feeling overextended is something I know all too well.

Years ago, I encountered a book that profoundly impacted my perspective: Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Dr. Henry Cloud. Dr. Cloud, an acclaimed leadership expert, clinical psychologist, and New York Times bestselling author, emphasizes the importance of setting healthy boundaries in all aspects of life, including leadership. These boundaries are not barriers meant to isolate us; rather, they define our limits, protect our well-being, and empower us to lead effectively.

As servant leaders, our natural inclination to bring people together can sometimes lead us to neglect our own needs or enable unhealthy behaviors in others. We might find ourselves saying “yes” to every request, stretching ourselves thin, and ultimately compromising our ability to lead with clarity and charity.

But here’s the truth: setting boundaries doesn’t make us less compassionate or less effective as leaders. Instead, it allows us to show up fully for ourselves and those we lead. Just as a bridge needs defined guardrails for the safety of travelers, we need healthy boundaries for our well-being and the meaningful impact of those we are called to lead.

How to apply the wisdom of boundaries to our own leadership journey?

  1. Define Your Limits: Take the time to identify your priorities, values, and personal limits. What are you willing to commit to, and where do you need to draw the line? Clarity in your boundaries will help you make informed decisions and communicate more effectively.
  2. Communicate Effectively: Be honest and transparent with others about your boundaries. Let them know what you can and cannot accommodate and encourage open dialogue about expectations. Effective communication fosters trust and respect, which is especially important for your core team members and those you are called to lead.
  3. Practice Restorative Care: Prioritize your well-being by carving out time for restorative care and renewal. Whether it’s through exercise, hobbies, or simply taking moments of solitude, nurturing yourself is essential for sustaining your leadership vitality. Dr Saundra Dalton-Smith has an insightful Tedx Talk and Book on this topic. The graphic below can also be a helpful reminder. 
  4. Empower Others Responsibly: While bridges bring people together, they also require maintenance to prevent overuse and deterioration. Similarly, as leaders, it’s important to empower others while ensuring accountability and responsibility. Avoid falling into the trap of enabling behaviors that hinder growth and development.


By embracing healthy boundaries, you’re not only preserving your own resilience but also fostering a culture of respect, accountability, and growth among your people.

As you navigate the intricate balance of leadership, may you find strength in setting boundaries that honor both yourself and those you lead. Together, let’s build healthy bridges within our Church that will unify, empower, and inspire growth.


Charisms & Culture: A Retreat Style Workshop for Parishes & Pastors

Elevare’s ‘Charisms & Culture’ workshop revitalizes parishes and empowers pastors for dynamic community growth.