As a key leadership component, expectations create a space for particular action to flourish. In a sense, expectations lure productivity in a specific area, toward a specific outcome and generally have a sense of timing. There are some caveats with expectations that place a burden of responsibility on both the expector and the expectee.

Leader Caveats

From a Leaders point of view, issuing expectation is likely a critical part of the job. However, having or communicating an expectation demands that the Leader have some command or familiarity with the expected result. False or unsupportable expectations are delivered when a leader is unfamiliar with the outcome being demanded, but is shifting the burden of responsibility onto the workforce to produce it.

Another critical Leadership aspect of expectations is not only to know the outcome being demanded but to have some idea of how to help or guide the workforce to produce the expected result.  Improving the employee satisfaction and performance around an expectation requires that the leader know where the employee strengths and abilities are, and make best use of those abilities in producing the goal. This insures the engaged participation of the workforce executing the effort, and produces the best possible result using the people at hand. Only by intentionally maximizing the abilities and talents that the workforce have, can a leader expect sustainable productivity that approximates the expectations, without burning the employees out.

Employee Caveats

As an employee expectations (from a Leader) are a wonderful indirect endorsement of your ability to produce. Expectations are a form of affirmation that you are capable of producing the result. However they can sometimes be unclear, so the onus for communicating that lies with you. The Leader may not know the instructions are vague, unless you say so.

Be sure the expectations you are responding to are healthy and sourced with the leadership. Often a pervading culture exists that sets a certain expectation that may not necessarily be instructed or endorsed by the leadership. This is most easily observed by people that are new to the organization.

Clear expectations can be a powerful way to inspire action from a group of people. Raising expectations, often raises productivity. However, there is an accountability that runs alongside expectations that places a burden of ownership on the expector and the expectee.

Two questions then:

  • Your staff’s greatest contribution is connected to your expectations and their Identity, do they know what both of those are?
  • Since raised expectations are commonplace these days, what are you doing to equip your followers?