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Setting Clear Expectations: Guidelines For Achieving Success As A Leader



The world is full of expectations. Your organization. Your family and friends. Colleagues and acquaintances. Your boss or leader. Everywhere you turn, people measure you by their expectations, not your expectation. What, then, is an expectation?


According to YourDictionary.com, “Expectation is defined as believing that something is going to happen or believing that something should be a certain way.” For example, a belief that you should behave as a proper gentleman or lady is an example of expectation. Another example of expectation is a belief that you will be getting promoted.


Part of being an exceptional leader understands what your team members expect of you. By understanding your members’ expectations, you become a better leader and a stronger team that can achieve anything. Exceptional leaders acknowledge weaknesses but focus on strengths.


Setting and managing expectations is critical to success within organizations and in life. In reality, the failure to set clear expectations eventually leads to disappointment, underperformance, missing deadlines, etc.


Dear leader, you can only please some. You must learn to do your best and leave the rest. However, doing your best and leaving the rest is not a tenable excuse for mediocrity. You must always put in your best at every time.


Beyond the above, however, there are certain values that you owe the world, even if, indeed, you have no direct responsibility towards anyone. One such is honesty. You owe everyone you meet your honesty.


There are so many doors that would open to you by merely being honest. But, of course, you may think that no one cares, bothers, or is watching. The truth, however, is that our actions and inactions will catch up with us one day, and usually when we cannot undo whatever we may have done in the past – good or bad.


In today's world, it may appear very difficult to maintain this good culture, and many reasons give credence to that. Sometimes, you are the only one trying to do the right thing in your sphere of influence. Sometimes, it may be because you have been hurt repeatedly by others, and you now see no need to remain honest.


Whatever the case, you must never forget that you are responsible for your reactions to situations and the outcomes that result from your reactions.


Expectations Employees Have About Their Leader


Certain behaviors on the part of the subordinate and the boss are conducive to productive and rewarding relationships. Most leaders favor someone who exhibits the behaviors they expect over someone who doesn’t, even if the latter’s performance is better. This is because great leaders know the former has the potential to contribute more to the organization over time.


Some simple expectations that the best employees have of their bosses include being consistent with meaningful communication as at when due, the heart to heart recognition and praise, providing feedback, coaching, mentoring, and on-the-job-training, creating an innovative environment where failure is not excluded and holding yourself as a leader and others accountable.


Others are creating safe and healthy working environments and overcoming the urge to micromanage the team while making the interest of the people in your team paramount all the time. Exceptional leaders acknowledge weaknesses but focus on strengths – fallibility and humility of heart are needed here. They must fully support exploring the full potential of every individual in the team and the team. Lastly, leaders must inspire high commitment and performance from employees and other stakeholders.


Teams need the right leader to guide them. If the above conditions do not exist in the organization, problems must be addressed before significant issues arise. In organizations where these expectations are being met, the motivation and happiness of staff will result in improved productivity.


Every employee is expected to maintain the following behaviors in the workplace: work with honesty and integrity, display a positive and respectful attitude, responsibly represent the organization, and perform their jobs to a reasonable, acceptable standard. Additionally, they should conduct themselves in a professional manner, maintain good attendance, even when off duty, and follow set policies and procedures when dealing with problems or issues.


Setting Clear Expectations


According to Joanne Trotta, setting clear expectations is good business. Why are clear expectation setting and management so significant? She suggests that clear expectations….:

  • make employees happier

  • improve performance

  • align priorities

  • bring organizational goals into focus.

  • improve teamwork.

In conclusion, highlighted below are a few things that may help you to handle expectations better:


1. Try to Express How You Feel.


Being an effective leader means having the ability to express your thoughts and feelings in a timely and effective manner. This is especially important when influencing those around you, whether during a meeting or in your private life. Effective communication can enable you to build respect from colleagues, subordinates, family, and friends by demonstrating the importance of the matters at hand. It can also show the sincerity of your words and create trust in the people around you. Furthermore, expressing yourself honestly allows others to better understand your ideas and intentions and brings clarity to any dilemma that may arise. Finally, active listening skills are also critical for successful leadership so that leaders are truly understanding of their teams' challenges and needs so as to provide meaningful direction and support.


When you feel that there is an undue weight of expectation on you as a leader, there is something you can do. Learn to express how you feel. Talk to people about it instead of allowing it to fester inside. So, other than taking the expectation in its strides and then going on to disappoint, find appropriate ways to communicate how you feel.


2. Pick Yourself Up


Disappointing people can be one of our biggest fears, especially when high expectations or standards are involved. But we must also remember that one mistake or failure doesn't define us--it's what happens after, and how to move forward is key.


If you find yourself in a situation where you have disappointed someone, don't allow it to weigh you down or hinder your ability to self-improve or innovate. You don't have to forget about your mistake but instead make an effort to amend whatever was not fulfilled; this will show that these past failures only serve as a learning experience and help you become more resilient in the face of adversity. We all make mistakes, and how we handle adversity really tests our character and strength!


3. Reflect and Move On


You may have just suffered from disappointment or hurt in the workplace. The reality is you have to be empathetic; you have to understand that certain things may have given rise to that development after deep reflection.


Understandably, you may feel hurt, but maturity lies in your ability to separate how you feel from reality – that is, your ability to demonstrate good emotional intelligence.


Take your time to analyze what happened; why the person acted the way they did. Try to forgive. There is an unpopular opinion about forgiving people in advance – that is to say, pardon everyone already in your heart, and make a prior commitment that whatever happens, you will not hold a grudge.


You may want to move on from the incident as soon as you can, however, it is important to pick lessons from every case so you can always prepare yourself better for future scenarios.


In the end, remember people will disappoint you but learn to trust in the people you work with, and never let past offense count. Only some people will be like you, even if you think you are disciplined, diligent, and honest. If you are leading a team, you must know that only some followers would be on the same page as you. What can you do?


First, you must know that some people do not intentionally disappoint or exhibit negative social values; they do so most likely because they also, at one point or the other in their lives, had been disappointed and are still suffering from the psychological effects. See things from their lens. If you can handle these people well, you may be the one who ends the cycle, and in the end, such people would be the ones with the best output in the team.


You can also employ hygiene and motivation factors. There are several ways to encourage people. Usually, when you can motivate people successfully, you can get them to commit more to your project.


You must also know, though, that no matter how good you are or how high your motivation factors rank, there will always be people who will let you down, so you must always be prepared for this.

Maintaining a clear head and having a contingency plan is important. Remember, success is a mind game, so having a clear head with a clear plan is crucial.


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