It's Always the Leader's Fault First
I repeat: It’s always the leaders' fault first.
If there’s any lesson you take away from this post, I hope it’s that statement.
Let me elaborate . . .
Over the years, I’ve read tons of books about leadership – as I’m sure you have!
My shelves are packed with all the classics:
- “Good to Great” by Jim Collins
- “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek
- “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu
- … and the list goes on (and on and on!)
But I’ve got to say, my greatest lessons have come from navigating my shortcomings as a leader.
Fortunately, I’m quick on the uptake. I'm also not shy to admit mistakes. Each opportunity to grow is an opportunity to learn. Every few months, I’m a different person – and with that comes all new insights.
As Robin Sharma, one of the world's top leadership experts puts it, “There are no mistakes in life, only lessons.”
There’s so much about leadership I want to share with you. But today, let’s focus on expectations – and how they can drastically impact business.
More than just setting the right or wrong expectations
As a leader, your team looks at you to establish the preferred outcome. Get it right, and you’ve given your team a North Star to follow. Fail to develop and communicate expectations, and you’ll find yourself frustrated, and members of your team hurt and confused. So how do you get it right?
You can start by learning how to navigate (and avoid) three common scenarios.
1. Uncommunicated Expectations
You know it’s essential to set expectations. But if no one knows what you want, your team will fail to meet your anticipated outcome.
It doesn’t even have to be a big letdown. I’m reminded of a team trip to Jamaica as I’m writing this. The team member responsible for booking travel and coordinating meal times scheduled dinner at 7 PM. Nothing wrong with that. But, unfortunately, we expected dinner to be earlier, and we were frustrated she didn’t know that.
I mean, who eats dinner at 7 PM? Not me. But this lack of communication was our bad. We shouldn’t have assumed she could read our minds or that this was simply common sense. And, while this incident wasn’t grounds for dismissal, uncommunicated expectations can cause teams to crumble.
2. Miscommunicated Expectations
You try to set reasonable, solid expectations. But when you change them without telling anyone, you’re left with miscommunicated expectations. Regrettably, I’ve done this a few times to my EA.
I wanted her to book me on a few podcasts to promote our work. So she did! But I changed my mind . . . without telling her. So when she lined up a couple of great speaking opportunities, I told her I didn’t want to do it anymore.
Is this her fault or mine? Obviously, it’s mine. And now she and I are left frustrated. So the lesson is anytime you have a change in what you expect from someone, you have a responsibility to communicate it with them.
3. Misaligned Expectations
When your incentives go against or reinforce an outcome contrary to the one you want, you’ve got a problem I like to call “misaligned expectations.”
I learned this the hard way. To drive daily sales, we offered our team a generous bonus if they hit a specific sales target in a single day. So expectations set and communicated. Incentives hyped.
But man. The result was not what we expected! Instead of increasing daily sales, we saw individuals stacking their calls into a single day to hit the target once a week. The rest of the week, they had little to no activity.
When this happens, your first thought may be that it’s a personnel problem. But when you look at all the pieces, you’ll likely find that the issue is not necessarily the expectation itself, but rather an element or strategy you hoped would support the desired outcome.
More lessons to level up your leadership skills
You’ll learn so much when you embrace the idea that it’s always your fault first as a leader.
In the Levels of Leadership training, I share more examples to help you set, communicate, and meet expectations (and avoid the mistakes I made!). I also do a deep dive into the importance of operational leverage for leaders. And I touch on how crucial it is to foster the right culture for your organization . . . and what happens when you fail to do so.
I also threw in a few jokes for good measure. So if you’re ready to turn your “people problems” into a rock-solid team, you know what to do! >> Click Here to Grab Levels of Leadership
In your service,