During our professional leadership journeys, expectations can make or break teams, communication or collegial relationships. They can also create significant happiness or adversity within our families.
We must focus on expectations we can control. When my sons were younger and played basketball, baseball and lacrosse, their initial expectations were that their teams would win every game. When that did not happen, they returned home tremendously disappointed.
As they matured, those expectations evolved and they revised their outlooks. We would sit down before games and discuss the expectations they could control.
-They expected to play hard,
-Support their teammates,
-Listen to their coaches, and
-Show good sportsmanship.
While they hoped to win every athletic contest, they realized over time that winning was not something within their own control.
Frequently leaders set unrealistic expectations for projects, programs or products. These unrealistic expectations only serve to hurt team morale.
Teammates then engage in unproductive behaviors:
-They gripe about what they consider unrealistic expectations,
-They gossip about their team leader in negative ways, and
-They find their own motivation decreasing
So when you set expectations for your teammates, please do it in a manner that involves them and make sure that they consider your expectations realistic.
Additionally, make sure you communicate your expectations clearly and in a timely manner.
Frequently over the years, I have seen leaders who expect their teammates to read their minds about expectations. Don’t be one of those leaders. Remember that people don’t necessarily hear things the way you think you said them.
Spell out your expectations early and often.
Explain your reasoning behind those expectations.
Collect feedback from your teammates about your expectations.
Be willing to adjust your expectations if and when that becomes necessary.
Remember that when it comes to expectations nobody can read your mind. That includes teammates, significant others, children and friends.
We have a favorite saying in our family: “The secret to happiness in life is low expectations.” We always say it with a smile on our faces. However, there is some truth to that motto. If we maintain realistic expectations, we are less likely to be disappointed by the ultimate results.
As leaders it’s really important that we be fully aware of our expectations, both for ourselves and for our teammates.
As long as we communicate our expectations appropriately and clearly, we and our teams will have a much greater chance to succeed.