3 Lessons of the Expectant Leader

July 8, 2013 — 17 Comments

“Expectations” is one of my favorite topics.  Today, please enjoy the lessons of expectant leaders, from leader and guest blogger Dave Bratcher. 

rearview 300x250 3 Lessons of the Expectant LeaderEver wonder why performance is not at the level you expected?

We often look through the rear view mirror to analyze our performance.  Just as the mirror suggests, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”  They are closer because the one who is responsible for setting them is the same person looking into the mirror.

Have you ever been perplexed as to why some team members are not performing at the level you expect?  What about your own level of performance?  Do you know what your boss or clients expect from you?

3 Lessons of the Expectant Leader

1. People will rise to your level of expectation  There is something magical about people performing to the level of your expectation.  As a former School Board member, this is seen in classrooms around the globe on a daily basis.  When test scores are low, it is often the desire of school administration to lower standards in an attempt to close the gap between performance and expectations.  This has been proven to be the absolute wrong approach to take.  Raising expectations will raise performance.  This is also true within a family, as Karin recently reflected about her Dad.

2. Expectations must be communicated…early and oftenI am reminded of an assignment in college in which I spent hours completing the project, only to find out the grading metrics were not in line with what I produced.  The expectations were not disclosed at the beginning; rather they were only used to judge performance.  Have you ever thought, “How am I doing?”  At some point in our careers we have all wondered this.  Guess what?  Your team members are normal and they may be asking themselves the same questions.   In Dave Ramsey’s book, Entreleadership, he talks about the importance of developing a Key Results Area document for each position on your team.  It is a short document, including 4-5 bullet points, describing the expectations for any given position.  This document is then used to monitor and assess performance throughout the year.  Our team should ALWAYS know where they stand, and it’s our responsibility to tell them.

3. Inspect what you expect – I don’t like clichés, but this phrase is memorable.  Just because it is easy to remember doesn’t mean it is easy to implement.  I am talking to myself on this one.  This has been the area that I struggle with the most.  What I have to do is put a reminder in my calendar, marked “Follow Up” as a way to make sure the inspection follows the expectation.

What has helped you raise the expectations within your organization?  Where do you struggle?  Please comment below.

dave 230x300 3 Lessons of the Expectant LeaderAbout Dave Bratcher

Dave Bratcher (@davebratcher on Twitter) is the founder of DaveBratcher.com devoted to leadership development.  Subscribe for updates at www.DaveBratcher.com and receive Dave’s FREE ebook, A Picture Book Manifesto on Leadership.  He is a John Maxwell certified speaker, trainer, and coach.  Dave is also a writer and currently serves as the Vice President of Financial Services for his community foundation.  He and his wife, of 8 years, have two children, ages 5 and 2.

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17 responses to 3 Lessons of the Expectant Leader

  1. In my work with leaders, I coach to have them create a shared vision with the team.

    The team sets the expectations. Then they’re all accountable to each other.

  2. Steve, That’s such a good way to approach it.

  3. Excellent approach Steve. How refreshing it is for everyone to know where they stand. The other benefit to your approach is they can’t claim to “not understand” what was expected, since they were involved in the development.

  4. I feel that setting clear expectations is a skill that many leaders are missing. Thanks for the article!


  5. It works with our kids, and it works with those who follow our leadership (and more often nowadays are kids, right?). If you don’t expect much from your team, you probably won’t get much. Expect excellence and you are much more likely to get it! Great article.

    • Steve H… I see you have the same feeling that our teams getting younger and younger ;-) So great to have you join the conversation at LGL. Hope to see you back.

    • As always, Steve Holt delivers a real world application! Your awesome and I wonder how expectations impact our effectiveness in the area of social media? Any thoughts Steve?

      • For example, when it comes to social media engagement there should be an expectation of consistency. Social media networks are like streams, with a constant flow of information. Step away for a period of time and the stream keeps moving, so you must be consistent in your engagement or you will miss too much. If you aren’t consistent there is no way to be effective, in my opinion. If your community reaches out to you on social media and you are not consistently engaging with them, you will miss something. That’s like only picking up the customer service telephone phone half of the time when it rings. You wouldn’t do that. Creating and writing down a social media plan for your organization is also critical if you hope to detail the expectations you anticipate and measure your effectiveness at meeting those expectations.

        • Thanks Steve Holt for reminding us of how important expectations are even in specific areas of our overall performance. I knew I could count on the social media expert to add value to the Let’s Grow Leaders community!

  6. I like the idea of developing a key results area document. I think this focus sends a message to everyone about priorities. The results that are measured and reviewed tend to be front of mind. I don’t have any employees and no boss, but I track four performance measures every week, including a measure of intellectual output. Nice work, Dave!

    • One of the most important parts of expectations is the inspection of them. Thank you for pointing out how beneficial this simple exercise can be when you are a team of one. Motivation only takes you so far, discipline must take you the rest of the way! Great comments Steve!

    • Steve, I like that idea a lot. Tracking our own expectations and results. Nice.

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