Saturday, June 16, 2012

Thought for the Day - Leadership, Expectations and Support

When we expect something from someone we place them in a situation where they try to fulfill our expectations. It's rather funny but its a human need almost. As we know expectations can place a severe burden on the one on whom they are placed. But if used well, they can push people beyond their boundaries to achieve big things. Exactly the kind of things that leaders wish for.

Ordinary leaders expect people to fail or not to match up to a standard, and thereby set them up for failure. This comes from their belief that most people will work less, and are not oriented to learning. In such a case even if we give a well equipped person an average or even low standards to achieve, and from the very beginning give all indications to the person concerned that we do not expect him or her to fulfill that standard, we are setting him or her up for failure. He or she will invariably tend to satisfy your expectations, and will perform below par. Of course you are proven right and your belief is fortified!

On the other hand, a good manager, sets high standards for average people and expect them to perform as if it was the most natural thing to do. They strive to fulfill your expectations. Many times they will on their own try to learn, put in longer hours, take ownership and seek to meet the high expectations. Again, more often than not, they will tend to fulfill your expectations. For your part, all the leader needs to do is hold your thought that they will fulfill your expectations, that they will find a way, and leave it at that. No rushing in for hand holding, no showing off your superior knowledge, no telling them how to do it.

The best method adopted by the masters is to expect the best from people, and when they need it, support them with the required inputs. Most times if they are told clearly what you expect of them, and if they are equipped well, they will find the way themselves.  They will learn and they will grow. They will do it themselves.

Often we find that we label people from our impressions of them and expect them to fail or succeed based on our impressions. If we expect them to fail they fail anyway (most times at least unless they are made of stern stuff). On the other hand we could expect them to succeed without giving them clear directions and without equipping them well, and risk being displeased by their lack of success or lack of speed in their success. The above expectations are not healthy expectations. They place the wrong set of expectations on the people and set them to fail.

The best way for the leader, teacher, mentor, elder, team mate and coach to drive the ward forward is to state your expectations clearly, higher standards than what the ward can achieve normally, expect the best from them and hold the thought firmly in your head. No rushing in with judgements and help at the first sign of slipping, no recriminations and hard opinions - just state the facts and hold your peace and convey your support and confidence. By giving support unconditionally and without hesitation, providing inputs required, you allow the person to find the path to achieve those expectations. You have taught the person to fish! You are a true leader.

I love this quote:
"If you tell me, I'll listen. If you show me, I'll see. If you let me experience, I'll learn." - Lao Tsu.

1 comment:

Rajendra said...

I like these old Chinese- Lao Tzu, Confucius,...