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What do you really mean?




My organization has been spending time with Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley's new book, The Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 ways to be a servant leader and build trust.


As I was putting together some resources for a team, I came across Simple Truth # 13 - You get from people what you expect. "When people don't understand what their leaders expect of them, they feel lost. They have no compass, no boundaries, and no agreed upon standards of conduct to follow" (p. 39). This statement is one to remember. It doesn't matter your role in your organization. If you interact with others, whether personal or professional, we owe it to others to be clear about what is expected.


In previous articles, I have shared that we bring three things to every interaction we have with others:

  1. Assumptions

  2. Perceptions/Perspectives

  3. Expectations


We all assume. We assume intent and then we filter it through our perceptions. We then match them up with our expectations and our response emerges.


Think about it - if I were to say that someone was rude, how would you describe it? Maybe they were short with you, maybe they used a tone that you didn't like. Or, maybe they told you no when you just wanted their help. Regardless of how you answered, you can see how all three play a role in your response.


*See what I did there? It's not about you, but it's all about you :)


If I expect something from you - then I need to tell you about that expectation. Blanchard and Conley expand on this when they say, "expectations are not just about words - they are also about you modeling the behaviors you expect. You must walk your talk, or your words are meaningless" (p. 39).


As leaders, I see a significant opportunity to solidify clarity around expectations. I spend a significant amount of time working with teams and senior leaders who are trying to figure out how to get their team aligned. There are many starting points with this, but one of the key responsibilities we all have is clarifying our expectations.


So, how do we move forward if we have different expectations? Blanchard and Conley provide the following example: "Suppose you tell your people that your expectations of them are similar to the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Describe to them in clear terms what that would look like:

  1. Act ethically in everything you do.

  2. Treat your customers the way you would want to be treated.

  3. Care for your teammates and cheer each other on" (p. 39).


What else would you add?


We all want to be successful in the work we do. One of the foundational elements we need to be intentional about is setting and clarifying expectations. Team members each bring unique perspectives and ideas to each experience. Leverage that by encouraging curiosity and inquiry.


I'll end with the final sentence in this Simple Truth: "Serve your people and help them accomplish their goals by setting the bar high and modeling the behavior you wish to see" (p. 39).

+ JRW

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If you want to learn more about the Simple Truths of Leadership book, check out their website or connect with Randy Conley

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