How can we set boundaries as a leader, at work, in business and in life?
In this episode, I am talking to Carina O’Brien, a wife, employee and founder of Working Mumma – a community & podcast.
Together we will discuss:
- The different types of boundaries
- Why it is essential to set our boundaries
- How to define your boundaries and communicate these
- Lots of examples and tips to set boundaries at work, in business or in life
Scroll down for this episode’s transcript.
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More About Carina O’Brien
Carina O’Brien is a mum to a 2.5 year old energetic son, an angel baby, with another little bub due in February and a fur baby. She is a wife, employee and founder of Working Mumma – a community & podcast she started when going through her parenting journey.
Carina is passionate about supporting working mothers have the confidence and mindset to find their balance between family, career & self-care to help them thrive.
She loves sport, going for a run, and enjoying a nice glass or two of red wine with her husband.
Follow Carina on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/workingmummacommunity/?hl=en
Find out more about the Working Mumma Community here:
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Anne: [00:00:00]hi everyone and welcome back to a new episode of the Lead Like YOU! Podcast. Today, we are going to talk about how we can set boundaries at work, in life, as a parent, [00:01:00] as a partner, in our relationships… How can we set boundaries and why that is so important for ourselves?
And I’m joined today by the wonderful Carino O’Brien. She is a mom of a 2.5 year old and very soon, actually just in a few weeks, she’s going to have another baby boy, which is very exciting.
So congratulations to that, first and foremost, so she’s the wife, she’s an employee and she is the founder of Working Mumma It’s a community and a podcast. She started when she was going through her own parenting journey and she wanted to create a community for other women where they can feel seen and heard.
And she has some beautiful wonderful resources. So you should definitely check it out. We will have all of the contact details in the show notes as well.
And she’s really passionate about supporting, working mothers to have the confidence and mindset to find their balance between family career, self care, to help them thrive.
And yeah, I’m really excited to have her here. I’ve also had the honor to be on her podcast at some point last year, I think. And yeah, I’m [00:02:00] really excited to have you here. Welcome to my podcast, Carina.
Carina: Thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure to repay the favor of podcast guests.
Anne: So exciting. So how would you best describe yourself?
Carina: Yeah. So thank you so much, Anne, for having me on. Look, as you said, I’m definitely wife, mother, business owner, all the above and all the different titles that you have.
I’m someone that probably doesn’t do things by halves. As people are telling me at the moment, I’m about to have a child. And then two weeks after that probably going – we’re moving house at start of March. So we’re recording this at the start of February. Yeah, I’m passionate about what I do.
I also believe in different causes, such as working mothers and wanting to help women thrive and have family and also a career. I’m very open honest and I was actually even chatting with friends yesterday. What is what you do yet. Yeah, that’s just a bit of me, but also on the side, I do enjoy good food, good wine. And I am an [00:03:00] avid sports lover as well.
Anne: Wow, amazing. So hopefully you can get back to all of that very soon once bup is here safely,
Carina: I’m hanging out to go for a run.
Anne: I’m the same. I was just thinking yesterday. So for everyone who doesn’t know, I’m actually currently pregnant with my second bub as well. due in three months time and yeah, I was just thinking yesterday, I really want to go for a run and have a really good sweat session yeah, it’s just a different even though we’re exercising now, or I am, you probably are as well a little bit, but it’s just not the same as just going for a nice run or doing like a really good session.
Yeah. Beautiful. And would you like to tell everyone a little bit about your journey, your career? Where did you start? Where are you right now? And yeah, just tell us a bit about your leadership journey.
Carina: Yeah, no problem. So my career started in the IT industry.
So sometimes people actually look at me sometimes twice “you’re in IT?”. And I said, yes and certainly in university, there’s only five girls that I could count in the lecture theater [00:04:00] doing it. And this is in the early two thousands just around the tech boom. And so it was really interesting, worked in the IT industry for a number of small and medium businesses for a number of years.
I enjoyed, but I knew that I’m not a real technical person. I enjoy the human interaction and helping people solve problems. And that’s pretty much been the foundation of my career of working with others to achieve outcomes. And then through that, I realized I need to think about something else.
And then I then randomly landed a job managing one of Melbourne’s largest sports facilities , the indoor and outdoor venues. And. I was very fortunate there because it actually gave me my first experience into management. I was there only a couple of months and I was very lucky that my manager at the time saw something in me.
And he said, do you want to manage this team? So I had three full time, 12 casuals. And we also, then during that four years, I was at that organization, [00:05:00] went through a really big cultural change program. I did turn around some staff because it just wasn’t the mix and the culture that we were at. And also whilst I was there, I started studying my master’s in management.
So that really gave me the theoretical insights into leadership and management and strategic management and I absolutely thrived on it. So I was working full time studying part-time. I was probably in my mid to late twenties. Yeah. There was times that I didn’t have much of a life of just doing notes and and essays and things.
But I look back on it now, still with a lot of admiration and I learnt so much and I absorbed so much. And so even to this day, from a leadership perspective, there are theories that I just naturally understand. And I can even say, I could say to someone in a meeting, I am playing the black hat role, and I know what that means and different people and things like that.
So I loved that learning opportunity. [00:06:00] I realized that. A long-term career in the sports industry wasn’t for me. And I wanted to go back into the corporate world. And then through a friend that I was actually studying change management with, she had a role at a big multi-national engineering firm and said, look, I’m leaving do you want to, would you be interested in this role? And it was working in the strategy department. And I was like, yes, because I, through my master’s study, I loved the strategy components and yeah. So I was very fortunate to to then land in that company. And I’ve been with that organization now for just over 10 and a half years.
It’s given me so many opportunities not as much in management, which is unfortunate, but I now, so I worked in the strategy department for about four years, then moved into the communications area. But a lot of them, the management and the leadership skills, particularly that I learned not only managing a team, but also studying my masters, are really coming into it, really to fruition. And even 12 months ago, I was talking about change management [00:07:00] with someone and I was like, yeah. You’re talking about say one moment, you’re talking strategy and you’ve got in your head, Porter’s five forces. And then other times you’re thinking about, the change management theories and that was all because of my master’s studies.
So I often say to people, I’ve got, had a bit of a weird and wacky background. But I’ve definitely followed my gut and I’ve been able to make transitions through connections that I’ve made throughout the course of my career. And building a strong network both internally as well as externally.
And as I say I love almost my foundation is really about working with others to help achieve outcomes. And that’s when I really get the most enjoyment out of, out of it. So sorry for that very long answer, but I’ve had a very different, weird and wacky background, but I think that’s also provided the foundation of my career today.
Anne: Thank you so much for sharing that. And I love that because that’s exactly why I wanted to have you on here as well, because one message that I really want to bring across in my work is that everyone can be a leader and leadership [00:08:00] can look so differently. So yes, big part of leadership is having direct reports, of course, that’s like your typical management role. But leadership is also way more than that. And you said about helping other people it’s about having an impact. Creating a message, sharing that message and helping other people thrive. And so you can do that in so many capacities, right?
In your communication role, in this corporate setting, you are creating an impact on a daily basis. So it’s, I think it’s about how can we redefine leadership . No matter if we manage people directly or not, we all have the capability and the opportunities to have impact and create that connection and really support people.
So I think it’s a beautiful example of how your journey has developed over time. And yes, you have managed people directly. You’ve studied management, strategy, leadership, and now how are you incooperating that into your role. So I think that’s a brilliant example of that.
And then also let’s talk about your working mumma, because that’s obviously a big part for you and how you actually became a leader in an [00:09:00] area that you decided needed some of your attention.
Carina: Yeah. So I started working mumma when I was, or the really thought bubble came out when I was six months pregnant with my son, who’s now two and a half as what you said. And I was looking around going, how am I going to do this? Just like in management, we think about, like I love Simon Sinek, for example, know your why, and you always look to other people and other leaders about how am I going to manage this.
And I was looking around and going, how am I going to be a working mom? Because I still wanted a career. And I knew I want to obviously be a mom and I didn’t want to be able to have to choose between one or the other. And so I thought I looked around, couldn’t find much inspiration. Couldn’t find many stories about how people were managing the juggle.
And so just like some. Some businesses, you just, if you can’t find it, you build it yourself. And so that’s exactly what I did. Before I officially launched, I put out a survey as well and got some great responses of people’s [00:10:00] experiences. Cause I thought, if, what am I going through- is that what others are also going through?
And the feedback was overwhelming about people wanting more support, particularly during the transition into motherhood. And then also then returned back to the workforce. And I thought, you know what. I’m just going to give it a go and just trust my gut. And it’s evolved over the last two years since I’ve launched it.
So 12 months ago also launched the podcast. It’s definitely gone a little bit differently to what I thought. But you know what, I’ve also grown so much from the experience. And also initially I’ll be quite honest that from a leadership perspective, I thought what gives me the right to tell others what to like, how to do something, but then people, even yesterday, I received a LinkedIn message from someone saying, thank you so much for setting up this community because I was doubting myself and didn’t know how to have the conversation with my manager and am I on this, on my own? And then she said, I came across working mumma and she said, it’s [00:11:00] giving me so much support and inspiration to know that I can do this. And I showed it to my husband. I said, check this out. I said, this is the whole purpose of why I created this, this platform is community and he said: well done. So yeah, it’s one of those things that I’m very passionate about, that women and having a career it’s hard when I hear people say, Oh, there’s not enough women leaders. And I’m just like look at the whole systemic element of it.
And it really starts from empowering women from when they think about having a family to then also returning to work so we will have more senior leaders. And as what you say, it’s not just about leaders from a management perspective, also leaders in organizations for women to even support dads going on leave and things.
Yeah, it’s a topic that I’m very passionate about. And yeah, I think certainly my career to date has enabled it. And I still suffer from imposter syndrome and confidence and things like [00:12:00] that. But I’m slowly putting my big girl pants on to actually overcome it.
Anne: So beautiful. I think what you created there is just so amazing and it’s so important for women because I went through it myself with my first son and going on maternity leave.
I had a really successful leadership career before I left for maternity leave. And then a lot of things had changed in that company while I was away for the 10 months. And so then for me, actually, after I came back, there was no opportunity anymore. So suddenly from a very successful leadership career, I fell down to nothing.
And you’re anyway in a quite vulnerable position when you return from mat leave. So even if you return back to your role or into a safe environment, you’re still gonna feel vulnerable. You still gonna struggle to find the balance. Your identity has completely changed. From before, even if you were focused on your career and on your leadership journey then suddenly you’re a mom.
I think there’s so much inner conflict for women of how do I define my identity? And I think we talked about it on your podcast episode, actually a lot about the identity of women when they [00:13:00] return to work. And maybe we link to that episode as well for everyone who wants to have a listen.
So I think it’s quite powerful that there is something out there, like your community to support women, to have resources, to network ,, to just talk about some topics that it’s not spoken about enough. I love how you often provide tips on what to say or how to start the conversation with your manager.
Because I remember when you’re like, when should I tell my manager, how should I tell him? And you almost. I feel guilty for being pregnant. I think it’s brilliant what you do. And I think it’s well needed. So if everyone who’s listening is in that position of being a mom or soon to be mom or planning to be a mom and wanting to have some support and resources on how to juggle that and definitely check out that community.
Carina: Thank you so much.
Anne: All right. You are a leader in the corporate world, but you also have your own business – a big topic is how we can set boundaries for ourselves. Like how do we even get it all done? And that’s not just a topic for moms, that’s a topic for anyone. And whether you are a leader in a big role, for example, or in a [00:14:00] small role, how do we protect our boundaries?
And that’s something we really want to talk about today. So when I mention boundaries, what comes to mind for you? Like, how would you describe or define boundaries?
Carina: Boundaries for me, and I was reflecting on this, it’s a bit like a Venn diagram and that you’ve got certain boundaries. And for me, a big boundaries of say work and life and even self care and career and things like that. And there’s a range of different boundaries that we have. But they also do overlap. So that’s why I’d also say it is a bit like a Venn diagram and probably lots of old different circles into interlinked with each other because. You’ve got some boundaries that yet we’re probably going to be very exclusive into one, one can say circle, but then as we know, work and life, it’s more of an integration. It’s not mutually exclusive. It’s came to me this morning when I was thinking about this question that I would say boundaries are a little bit like a Venn diagram.
Anne: I like that comparison.
Carina: And I’d also say that the [00:15:00] circles on that Venn diagram are constantly changing and shifting, and sometimes they’re going to have a really big boundary on maybe your personal life and then other parts are going to be a little bit smaller. And I will also say they’re invisible lines. It’s also about what you’ve mentally got into yourself about where you very consciously will create those boundaries. No, one’s setting that for you. It’s not like it’s a border lack we’ve got at the moment with COVID and borders around the world that a hard and fast . certainly boundaries are very much a psychological contract with yourself.
Anne: Hundred percent, a hundred percent. And you’re right. Like when we talk about balance, it’s ever changing, our perfect balance. And I always like to say there is no perfect balance. When we talk about work-life balance, I would just look at life balance. What is your life balance? Because work is part of your life.
But there’s so many other elements that you should look at when we look at the life balance. It’s like our health, our career, it’s our financial situation, it’s all the things like that. And there will be different points in time, even [00:16:00] within a year, it’ll change, your priorities will change. So how do you protect, how do you define your perfect balance right now in this moment is what’s important.
And that can change in three months time because you might have different preferences. So I think, yeah, I like when you said that these are ever moving lines and barriers and boundaries there. And I think when we talk about boundaries, it’s also important to start to understand that you can look at it from different perspectives, right?
We can all have emotional boundaries where we protect ourselves emotionally from certain people, it’s about personal space sometimes, it’s time-related. when we talk to someone or we want to help someone that we have a certain timeframe set. Or even if we offer a service that this is a certain timeframe, you’re booking me for an hour this is my boundary. I’m not going to go over that. So protecting our time. So there’s so many different elements when we look at boundaries.
And what would you say in the last few years, what kind of areas have you felt were the most important for you to set your boundaries?
Carina: I have to say becoming a mom has definitely helped me set my boundaries a lot more. Because I would say that [00:17:00] prior to having kids you can work those extra long hours. I used to work say work a day, come home, have dinner, and then log on and do more work. Whereas now, and even both my husband and I have consciously actually said to each other, we’ve actually probably scaled back some of those extra hours working in the office because we’ve got to commit to picking up our son and doing dinner and we want to be there present at the same time. And also support each other in that journey. So for me, becoming a parent has really changed the boundaries in that sense and also about setting what we want for life.
As you said, it’s the emotional boundary of what we want as a family. Also the time that we want to commit to with work. And I’d actually say that we’re probably more efficient at work because we know that we’ve got to, we’ve got a hard, fast time of when we want to leave the office. And even when we were in lockdown and still working from home, we know that, between say 5/ 5:30 it’d be, we’ve got to go get our [00:18:00] son from childcare.
Where in the past, if we didn’t have kids, we’d probably work much later into the night because we don’t, we didn’t have that boundary set and that hard, fast rule of time. So definitely recently. Yeah, becoming a parent. I have to say it’s really changed my perspective, my outlook and also consciously creating boundaries in different parts of my life.
Anne: So you just shared a little bit about work-related boundaries and kind of the time that you spend at your corporate role and really limiting that to certain hours a day. What are the boundaries have you felt like have you had to set over the last few years or where do you feel like, was it a bit difficult to set the boundaries.
Carina: Yeah, I think family was definitely easy. Interestingly as well I’ve very consciously due to my husband’s influence, set a boundary in terms of sharing say photos on social media. So people may not necessarily consider that a boundary, but for me that’s a and my husband’s quite a private person. Like he’s got really no social media accounts. So for us, and he said early on, I don’t want any photos of our [00:19:00] son and all that on social media. So that was a very clear boundary that we have then kept to, and, you may see a hand or the back of my son’s head or something occasionally, but that’s where
definitely creating that boundary. And it did, I have to say, take some discussions between my husband and I, and so I’m like we’ve got friends that would be interested in saying it and he goes, no, who that’s, what, you catch up with people for and actually creating that boundary. So it was interesting there.
And also I think sometimes that the mum guilt of, the should boundary and that emotional component of I should be doing this and I should be doing that. And creating boundaries have actually gone. Maybe not, or how we spend our time as well. And I think there’s a lot of competing demands that we have in terms of, you’ve got work that sometimes can be really busy. And then you’re like, Oh, I really, maybe I log in just quickly and do that. But for me as well, I’ve been working three days a week. And I was like they’re my three days for work. [00:20:00] And when I’m on at work, I’m on. And I pretty much put my family in the back, like in the background, cause I’m like, no, I need to focus on my time. That way as it’s really creating that boundary. But then my days of just just between my son and I’ve been very conscious of making that just about us.
Also creating the boundary that I’ll put my phone away, not look at social media and not look at my phone. And occasionally like I’ll bring my phone out to take photos of him if he’s doing something so we can share. And we share those photos on tiny beans. But it’s also making sure that when I’m in that moment of the role that I’m playing.
If I’m in mom mode, I’m trying to be all into mom mode. And then if I’m in work mode, that’s where I’m focused on. So also I guess, physically and also mentally creating those boundaries. So for what I need to do at that time, I’m playing that role.
There have been some challenges I know during COVID, there was a Friday meeting at one o’clock that I’d needed to attend that I then had to make that sacrifice, but I was [00:21:00] also having myself like sometimes cutting myself up. Cause I’m like, but that’s my working momma time. So I would generally do working momma when my son’s asleep. And I love that two hours, two hour nap in the middle of the day. And that’s what I’ve been able to do working mumma. So I’ve psychologically got my areas of when I have my roles and my boundaries.
But yeah, look, I think just like anyone, there are also challenges at different points. And it’s about managing that and being okay with the boundary that you’re creating and what other people do and the opinion they have. That’s fine. But you do what’s best for you and your family and you stay in your lane.
And that also helps with overcome any guilt that you’ve got about creating the boundaries that work for you.
Anne: Lots of interesting points you’ve just raised. And I would love to go into more detail in a few of those, because one part you talked about was the social expectations that are put on us.
And so how do we protect ourselves from that? Then you talked about other people and their boundaries and especially in partnerships, or even at work, that can be quite interesting. [00:22:00] And then you just mentioned something about what when boundaries don’t quite work. So when we have certain expectations on our own boundaries and and then we have to rejuggle those boundaries.
And another point that was really interesting then was also when you talked about the opinions of other people, so not just the social expectations, but then also when you create a boundary, what do other people think of you staying in that boundary? So let’s just talk about that for a second. Before we move to the other points . what would you say would be your biggest tip on trying to protect yourself emotionally from that judgment from the outside or often it’s also just what we perceive as judgment or what we think other people think and they actually might not even be thinking that. But how do you protect yourself emotionally from that to not worry about what potentially other people could think?
Carina: It takes work and it’s not something I think that you will do straight away, but even sitting down and reflecting on what’s important to you. I sometimes use a scenario that you’ve got, for example, 12 balls and four [00:23:00] buckets. And then how would you feel each of those buckets? And it doesn’t have to be even across each of those buckets and say the four buckets would be life, career, self care and family.
And so you could say, look, I’m one day. I need to spend more time and have my focus on, family, for example and, and fill your buckets that way and do this on your own and reflect on what’s important for you. And I also liked the concept of seasons.
What works for you now may not work for you in three months time. And so I think that understanding what’s important to you. So you’ve got to do the reflection first of, what’s important. And then actually almost just block out all the other noise. And it’s unfortunate through society. We will judge other people based on our own experiences. But you don’t necessarily know what they’re going through at that time. You may not know that the child may be going through a sleep regression. They may not be eating as we all know with parents. It’s just a nightmare. And eating and things like that. I know it is with my child, so it’s. It’s one of those [00:24:00] challenges. It’s one of those things of, walking in someone else’s shoes. So try and just block out and also have the confidence that you know, what you’re doing is best for you and your family. Make sure you’re on the same page as well as your partner.
So if you do doubt yourself, you’ve got someone else that can lift you up and actually support you. I know, sometimes I may doubt myself. And even when we first dropped my son at childcare, that first week I rang my husband going, are we doing the right thing? Like I’ve got massive mom guilt, and this is really tough.
And my husband turned around and said, no, we’re doing the right thing. And he backed me up. So definitely reflect on on where you’re at. And what’s important to you. Align with your partner or close confidant, and your tribe about what you’re doing. And essentially also blocking out the noise of others and have the confidence that you’re doing the best thing for your family at that particular point in time.
Anne: Yeah, I like that.
So it’s really about what do you value what’s important to you and then just focus on you and your life and your family in that moment [00:25:00] and why you’re doing it and, connecting it to your purpose to really just know, okay, that’s why I’m doing it. And I’m not doing it for anyone else. I’m doing it for us and my life.
Carina: Knowing your why. I love the Simon Sinek’s golden circle of knowing your why. And I think you can really bring components of that into your own life. It’s not what you do, but why? And everyone has a different why.
And I think when, you know your purpose, your why, it gives you clarity. It’s like this massive light bulb moment of, Oh yeah. And even as I said, we’re moving house soon. And when we’re going through the sale process of our house, my husband had said to my son, we’re doing this for you. We’re moving house. So you’ve got a bigger space to play and things. All this craziness was actually something bigger that was also part of our plans for our family.
Anne: Yeah. Sorry. True. And that’s such a good example that we just have to remind ourselves of these things as well.
Let’s talk a bit about communicating our boundaries and maybe also think a little bit about at [00:26:00] work, because obviously, you talked about one example where your husband communicated his boundaries to you, but then also at work, there might be situations where we will have to communicate our boundaries where we either have to say this when I’m leaving.
We will have to say, you can’t talk to me like this. Or please respect: this is my role, this is your role. What would be your tips of how to communicate our boundaries so that others are aware of the boundaries?
Carina: Some will be physical and also some will be subtle or written.
So for example a big boundary that you can very quickly and easily set is your calendar. So when you can set up your availability. So it’s a very physical thing to do. So for example, I used to work Tuesday to Thursday. So I made sure Mondays and Fridays, my calendar was blocked out. And so people could say my availability and know that it’s there.
If there was an important meeting on either of those days, certain people knew that yes, they could push those boundaries and I would make allowances for it. But also at the same time, if I was working on [00:27:00] those days, I would then make sure that I would finish a little bit earlier or I’d work sometimes and doing the extra hours is a bit of a debits and credit system.
And certainly as well, you don’t wanna give too much of yourself to the organization that they take so much away from you. I guess it’s really overstepping that boundary, but instead if your giving a little bit on both sides and that’s also in terms of, yeah I’ll work an extra couple of hours here, but also be of the understanding that if I need to go do something say with children or even a personal appointment that you can also do it. That’s why I often say with work, it’s a bit of a debits and credits and even setting boundaries.
Certainly as well, if I actually had someone say to me, Oh, so you can’t travel because you’ve got a child. And I said, No, you can’t make that assumption. I said, you don’t know what support I’ve got in the background. And they’re like, ah, and I said, I’ve got a very supportive husband who wants me to have a career and supports me having a career. And I said, I’ve got an amazing tribe around me. [00:28:00] So I said, to go to that trade show or that conference, I can make it.
And so I have traveled a number of times in Australia. And my husband and I’ve already had the discussion if I had to go overseas with work, what we would do. And so it’s people, those mental models they may have of you,about what it is, but it’s also about demystifying it.
And I guess that’s also part of my thing with working momma is about demystifying what it’s like to be a working mum, but also encouraging those conversations. So if you can travel or if you don’t want to travel. Have the conversation.
I know it’s also the scenario as well of sometimes particularly working in a very male dominated organization, I’ve always worked in very male dominated industries, that don’t be afraid to speak up. And I know sometimes we’re like, Oh, women will typically as well be the last one to sometimes give their voice.
But when you actually do give your voice and you say it and articulate it in quite a way, you can actually then be heard. So then also people are then demystifying those boundaries and those mental models they may have of you. And don’t be afraid as well [00:29:00] to call people out.
About six months ago I had someone. But he was a very, probably close to retirement age, white male, very stereotypical worked in the industry a long time. And he was quite rude to me.
And I then called him out on it. And I said, that’s not the behavior and the culture of the organization want. I had the confidence to say this because I do report into the CEO. I’m part of the cultural change, that I can influence in that. So I actually called out his behavior and he was taken back by it.
He was like, Oh, But also the other people in there on the call realized, alright, Carina is not a pushover. And he has never, again, spoken to me that way. And actually it’s probably made us work better because I actually stood up to him. And so I actually earned the credibility. So definitely around communication there’s lots of different ways to create those boundaries. Both physical and some are tangible. But also don’t be afraid to actually have the [00:30:00] confidence to speak up as well, to create those boundaries. And don’t let other people take too much advantage of you. So sorry that’s again, a very long answer.
Anne: Brilliant answer. Thank you so much. There was again, so much in there that we can unpack a little bit more, but I want to talk about the speaking up to, to address a certain culture or a certain behavior that doesn’t align with the company values. And that’s a big part of leadership also is to show your integrity and that you are actually standing for your personal values, but also the company values and that you’re standing in for that, and that you’re calling out behavior that is not acceptable. That’s part of leadership. And you can do that. Whether you are a leader that leads a team or not, you get to talk about that. You get to speak up, you get to set and protect the boundaries.
And that’s really important. I think if. I’ve seen so many times that leaders have actually not really fulfilled that role, where they’ve protected the values of the company, where it was really taken serious. And if the leader doesn’t do it, then the people below. tHey don’t dare to do it necessarily as well.
Cause they just think that behavior is just accepted. And if I speak up, nothing is going to happen. So really [00:31:00] starting to build up that courage to set the boundaries and as a leader that is in a higher position, you have to speak up for the company’s values. You just have to, it’s part of your role.
It’s really important. And if you’re further down though, on the organizational chart, you get to still do that and especially do it for you. But I know it’s not always easy to speak up and also to speak up when even the culture or the conversation goes in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable.
And I’ve worked in the male dominated environment, my whole professional, or my whole corporate career as well. And I worked in the manufacturing industry and there’s quite a certain culture in the manufacturing industry. And it has changed a lot, has come a long way. But when I first started over 10 years ago, there was a certain culture because it was just males on the shop floor and there was a lot of more rougher conversations, the tone, the way it was spoken. I worked in areas where the head pinup girls, pictures of naked women pinned up to the machines and stuff. So there, I was, mid twenties working alongside or working with these guys.
And they had all these naked [00:32:00] women around. And the thing though is at that point, cause I was still just, I was very young and I wouldn’t say naive, I was put into that environment. And so I just accepted that that’s just how it is. I didn’t even think further about that, whether that was disrespectful towards me, that they were talking that way or that they had these pictures up there.
It didn’t even occur to me to think about that because I was thrown in and I just thought that’s just how it is. So I just sucked it up. And then over time there was also, the way that some people spoke to me often things resulted in yelling really quickly. Cause that was just how they spoke, the blokes and the shop floor. And again, me just saying “that’s just how they spoke”, it’s almost justifying that was just normal. But at the start you don’t know any better. And if you’re younger, whether you’re female or male, sometimes you don’t know better.
And that’s also okay. I’m not saying when we say speak up for yourself, you don’t have to do it right away because you also, again, talking about boundaries have to protect your emotional boundaries because sometimes it can be really scary to speak up. And if we then speak up, we’re putting ourselves in an environment that can even get harder for us to make [00:33:00] it through without crying ourselves, for example. So I think it’s important with boundaries also protect yourself first, find ways to build the confidence, find people that will back you up and then you can start to speak up, but don’t put yourself in an environment where it’s actually going to turn out even harder for you. I think that’s also important to say, but over time for me, for example, I started to gain confidence.
The more I was confident in my job and my role, the more, I was confident to speak up. And even if I, what I often did when conversations went in a certain way that I was uncomfortable because they started to talk badly about someone else, or it was like disrespectful to certain groups of people women or other people or race or things like that, I would just say, I’m going to remove myself from this conversation. This is not the way I want to speak. And I’m just going to leave now. And that was my way of rather than confronting them and having a deep discussion into why their behavior wasn’t okay. I just made a point by walking away and saying, though, I’m walking away.
And that was a good middle ground for me, because I was saying [00:34:00] this is a boundary. I’m not going to be involved in this conversation. But I’m also protecting myself because I know if I confront you now, it’s not going to go anywhere. It’s not worth it. It’s not worth it, my energy. So I’m going to move away. And it did over time change and people started to be more aware of how they spoke, what words they use. And so I think you can start to make little changes like that and have an effect like that. But always protect your own boundaries, I think, is a key message from me as well. But if you want to have influence, you gotta start to learn and speak up when it’s safe to do and just really protect those boundaries .
Carina: I I don’t think I would have called out this gentlemen 10 years ago. I wouldn’t have, I wouldn’t have said. And probably even two years ago . But because I knew that the culture, the values, what was called guiding principles was being set by the CEO.
So I knew I had as what you said, my boundary of my fallback position. So if someone complained, I knew that I had the backing of the CEO and senior management of saying, of calling out this behavior. And it was something [00:35:00] that they’re trying to try to stamp out. But prior to that would, I’ve done it, probably not.
And so it’s definitely knowing where you’re coming from and also what backup you’ve got. But if you don’t have the backup, look for avenues. If someone’s definitely overstepping the mark, finding, those whistleblower policies and things like that to actually help you.
Anne: It does take courage, but for me, and that’s my big message of mine is that leadership takes courage. So we have to sometimes dare to do something that feels uncomfortable or a bit scary in order to create impact and change and really change something for the better.
So really important message. We were just sharing. Really great. Thank you so much for that.
And then another point you talked about was blocking your calendar and protecting your time and your boundaries. And one thing that came to mind for me that was, you always think you’ve got to work more to be seen and to be respected and have chances of being promoted and things like that.
And so I, I worked so hard all these years, all the time, but the thing is, the more you give, the more it’s also expected. So I think that’s an important message to share [00:36:00] as well. Yes,sometimes, certain roles demand you to work a little bit of overtime here and there, but the more you give, then people just think, that’s just how you work.
If you always answer your phone at 8:00 PM or 9:00 PM, they just assume that’s what you’re going to do. So they will call you at 9:00 PM. They’re not going to wait until the next morning. They will call you at 9:00 PM. Cause they know, Oh, Anne or Carina, they’re always answering the phone at 9:00 PM.
So one thing one point that I wanted to make in that sense, it’s really. You have to set your boundaries there. Nobody’s going to set them for you. A business, a corporation or people will always just take, and not necessarily cause to have bad intentions, but if it’s available, of course, we’re going to take it.
So whether you’re in a corporate world, whether you have your own business, you have to define your boundaries and you have to stick to them, even if it might be awkward to just say, yep, no, I won’t work I won’t look at that until tomorrow. Oh yeah. I can do this for you. But it won’t be until in three days time when I have finished this other project. So you really have to own that and own your boundaries, your time boundaries at work or in your own business. I think it’s a [00:37:00] really important message and it takes time sometimes to learn that, but, and again, it takes courage to then communicate our boundaries.
Carina: I think quickly on that, it’s just one thing that came to mind was that even from a work sense, I’ve actually made it a conscious decision that after a certain time at night, I’m not going to check my work phone for my email. So actually from a physical sense, And it’s actually starting to come to my mind.
I’ve actually got two phones. Yeah, I did that too. Not everyone does it, but I really wanted to create that boundary between work and my personal life. So I’ve got to phones, two numbers and people say, Oh, that’s annoying. I said, no, because I want to be able to switch off. And so at night I’d get to probably maybe eight o’clock I’d check my email.
And so I’m working for an international company. There was still emails coming through, but also I made the conscious decision of no, I’m not going to check my email after a certain time. And I put my phone face down, so I’m not going to see what email alerts are coming through. And then. Yes. When I wake up in the morning, I can then check it, but even not even having my phone in my [00:38:00] bedroom really creates that boundary because I know it’s been early on a couple of times,
I checked my email just before going to bed. And that last email I saw I’m then thinking about, as I’m going to sleep. And it was just terrible. I was like, I shouldn’t be going to bed thinking about these issues. I’ll deal with it. I can’t do it at 11 o’clock at night. Yeah. So really those boundaries as well for me have been really helpful and now going on maternity leave, I don’t have people contacting me.
I can turn my phone off or I can turn it on to check email if, and when I want to choose that. But I’ve still got my personal phone and even on my out of office I actually said to people. I said, if you want to contact me personally, whilst I’m on mat leave, you can do so via LinkedIn. So for me, I’ve created that invitation to people.
That’s how you contact me. It’s not by email. I’m not giving out my personal email or anything like that, but I’ve also allowed people into that sphere, into that boundary. Otherwise I’m like, That’s it.
Yeah. I love that. And it’s so funny. Cause I [00:39:00] did the same at some point in my corporate career, I had two separate phones and I wanted to be able to turn it off, to leave it in the bag on the weekend,
turn it off.
Anne: Not even have it not even be tempted. And at night I was the same thing I was working cause I was in a very high leadership role. My boss was actually in Berlin. So I had to report to a boss in Berlin who was working with all the people from around the globe. So his team, all of us who were reporting to him,
we were in America, we were in Europe. We were in Australia. We were around the world. So a lot of communication with him would happen at night. And so for me, you know that, as you said, then you look at that one email. Just before going to bed. And then I was so anxious the whole night, couldn’t sleep, panicking.
Cause I couldn’t act on it, but I needed to act on it, but of course it can wait until the next morning. But it’s you think then you have to act on it. And I really, at some point I’m like, okay, I can’t look at the phone at night anymore. It’s tough when you sometimes have late meetings.
So sometimes I had 10:00 PM meetings with my boss and that was necessary because there were other people in Canada and Europe, like with Australia and Canada, it’s [00:40:00] really hard to combine everyone in one meeting. So someone had to suffer either like for four or 5:00 AM or even 10, 11:00 PM at night.
But yeah, whenever I could actually I put it in a drawer my work phone, so I couldn’t even see it anymore, so it wouldn’t even come into my sight.
And yeah, so I think I did the same and that’s, I think one of the biggest things I can advise anyone on just get a separate work phone because now that I have my own business, I don’t, and I find that really hard now as well because of my social media activities. I’m just always there and it blurs into private and personal . So I’m still working on how to work out those boundaries better, but yeah, definitely a really good tip, I think, to set the boundaries with the phone.
And I think one thing, because we’ve already been talking for quite a while, but I think one thing that we should really make clear is that you always have the right to say no, that’s your basic ride. You get to say no, just because you’re working for somebody. Just because you’re in a relationship or you are mom, whatever your circumstances are, you get to say no, and you get to say, I need a [00:41:00] break. You get to say, I want to be treated with respect. Yeah, you get to say, this is what I need.
So I think it’s really important that we know that we have a right to protect ourselves and set our boundaries. And I think that’s something that a lot of time we forget because we feel like the pressure gets too much and we feel like we have to answer to everyone and we have to say yes, and we have to try and please everyone.
So I think that’s a really important thing.
Carina: I agree. You’re answerable to really yourself and what works for you, your family and your situation. And it’s okay that, you know what it’s okay to say no, and it takes a lot to, to accept that. And to be able to say it sometimes, and a lot of strengths.
And also in creating a boundary, it’s okay to let other people in to help you with that boundary and accepting help and asking for help. But it’s really important to, rather than thinking about what I should be doing, do what’s best for you and the boundaries you create. What works for you and your [00:42:00] family and your period of time.
And it takes confidence and it takes a lot of work sometimes to create that boundary, but I hundred percent agree. It’s what works for you.
Anne: Because I think in the long run, it’s you, it’s your business, it’s your life. And In the long term, you just have to answer to yourself as you said.
Cause even I think, when I reflect now that I left that corporate world when I’ve years ago to start my own business. While I was in it and I was in this career and on this ladder, there was so much pressure that I put on myself, but also that I felt and often, a lot of it, I created myself, and lots of expectations.
And then also I felt this guilt or commitment to this company and this I have to for the company and they have allowed me all these amazing opportunities. So I have to give them my all. And I can’t say no. The thing though is now that I’m not with it, that company anymore.
It’s all forgotten, right? Like really quickly a company forgets about you, right? Yes, you’ve done great work, but you’re replaceable within such a short time. Even if they’ve valued you, but other people that work with you, they move on, things change. And suddenly you actually have nothing to do with that company [00:43:00] anymore. They don’t think about you. So all your hot work all the times, you said yes and you didn’t set your boundary they’re all forgotten. It’s not that you’ve got to get a payback. For that at some point in life. Yes. While you’re with the company, it can maybe help you to get promoted, but always thinking about, you said before, like the balance and like a give or take, right?
Like a credit and debit system. So make sure you take some time back. And make sure that it is a rewarded with maybe a promotion, if that’s important for you at that point in time, but it’s also not everything. A promotion is not everything in life. But like really working on that because the company will not thank you in 20 years time, It’s just not, but the time that you’ve lost or the energy you lost or the stress you put yourself under, you are the one who will have to maybe live with some consequences or a certain life changes.
So I think it’s just so important to know that a company is just a company. You don’t owe them anything. And I think when you’re younger, when you start your career, it’s really hard to maintain that boundary. Like I was definitely not maintaining it enough because I was definitely giving everything to my [00:44:00] work.
Carina: It’s actually, I did a podcast couple weeks ago with Sarah Makris and she had this awesome quote that said, think about your career as a business and who you work for are your clients. And so it was a really good way of actually shifting the way that you perceive things.
And it certainly, I know helped me and also what’s going to be on your tombstone or your plaque when you unfortunately, may pass away. We’re all in this life for a period of time. And I know that like last year, my both my grandmother and my grandfather in law both passed away and The biggest things that we were talking about at the funerals were about the impact they had on family and friends and things like that. And we acknowledged they had good careers, but also that they were there for their family and what they’d sacrificed for us as children and grandchildren. So I think that’s also for me, Going on maternity leave.
The first time actually gave me perspective actually on my boundaries and also what the organization was doing. I’ve seen a lot of great people, [00:45:00] unfortunately get made redundant. And you like, as you were saying, they’ve sacrificed a lot and I’ve seen people have strokes, heart attacks, probably the onset of cancers because of the stress they’ve had to deal with in those roles of very senior management.
And I’m thinking, is it worth it? And I will say that for me is a boundary. And that’s why I’ve come back with a different mindset this time round with maternity leave. I have gone. I want to do what works for me and my family and what makes me happy. Yeah. And sometimes as well, knowing what’s important to you and not everyone wants to live in the multi gazillion dollar mansions in Toorak, because that’s not, what’s important to them.
knowing your values, knowing what’s important to you. And even my husband and I were having the chat the other day he said if I went to get a different job at a different company, I may not make it home for dinner and bath time.
And for us, he said, I would sacrifice probably thousands of dollars for the inner city job, just so I can actually be there. So it’s about those boundaries that we create for ourselves and [00:46:00] also the life that we want. And actually coming back to leadership, I really love this scenario as well. You are the CEO of your life.
And so you deserve to actually pick out what is important to you and how you want to lead your family. And, you’re the CEO of being, who’s running the finances and who’s doing your marketing and things like that, that you are responsible for your life. And, you may be the CEO, your husband may be the CFO or the managing director.
And but it’s, you are in charge of your own life, to be your own leader and have the influence on those around you.
Anne: I love that. And I think there’s not much to add to that because it’s really about that. We are the leaders of our own life. We get to decide what our goals are and how our perfect life looks like.
And there’s so much to it. So I really love that. So thank you so much for sharing that.
I guess we could talk about boundaries and this topic for hours and hours. But there were some really great thoughts there. So thank you so much for sharing and sharing your really complex [00:47:00] perspective because you obviously can speak of an employee, a business owner and a mom.
So there’s lots of areas and a wife, obviously, relationships obviously create a big part in our life too, that deserve attention. And yeah. Thank you so much for sharing all that experience with us and some really great points to think about.
So I hope that everyone enjoyed this conversation, we’d love to hear from you. What is something that you’re still working on, what our boundaries that you find hard to set? What are boundaries, that you are really determined and really great at holding for yourself ? Shared it with with us. And I will share everything about Carina and her beautiful working mama community in the show notes. Do you maybe just want to mention where people can find you if they just want to look you up now?
Carina: Yeah, no problem. So on Instagram, it’s working mumma community. So mumma, M U M M A. You can go to workingmumma.com au. And I’ve also got a free Facebook group as well, working mumma community on Facebook. So essentially if you Google working mumma . And I’m on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram. [00:48:00] They’re the main channels.
Anne: Thank you so much for being on it was so great to speak to you and I wish you all the best for the next few weeks.
It’s so exciting with a new baby and a new house. So you definitely have your hands full.
Carina: Yes. I need some boundaries.
Anne: Good luck with that. I can’t wait to see how everything turns out for you and I’m looking forward to speaking to you soon. Thank you. Thank you so much. Bye.