Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke


Effectively Sharing Expectations – A Leadership Must

Volume: May 2010

By Doug Van Dyke, Leadership Simplified, www.leadershipsimplified.com


I coach 7-year old soccer. No, I am not a masochist. The children are learning fundamentals and having a lot fun – that is what matters right now. My youngest son plays on the team. He is a natural defender. As such, he only scores on occasion. During a recent game, however, we were short-handed and in need of a goal. Late in the game I took Noah, my son, off to the side and said to him: “Noah, the team needs a goal. I fully expect that you will score a goal before this game ends.” Sidebar: I am not one of those parents; we simply needed a little goal, that’s all. Back on task - Noah nodded and said, “Okay daddy.” He then ran out there and promptly scored a goal.


Now if Noah had not scored a goal, no one would have been upset. He always plays his heart out. But, he has all the skills and abilities to score a goal – why not tap into that potential. And that’s the real topic of this narrative: articulating expectations to team members in a fashion that taps into their viable potential. So without further adieu, I offer you six traits to keep in mind when you are sharing your expectations with your valued team members. 

  1. Be realistic. Make certain that the person can attain what you expect. If your expectation is too “pie in the sky,” you are setting someone up for failure. Instead, be realistic and give everyone a chance to win!
  2. Be specific. Not only about your expectations, but also about the specific impact that delivery of your expectations will have on other team members. In other words, help your people lock into the big picture by understanding how their performance impacts the greater good. 
  3. Tone of voice. It is difficult to hear our own tone of voice. Especially when we are we are stressed, which is a fair amount of the time. When we are stressed, our tone of voice can easily become terse – certainly harsher than we intend. If you share expectations in an inappropriate tone, you may build a perception that you are dictatorial, when in actuality you are attempting to be participatory. As best you can, check your tone and make sure it matches the message you desire to convey. Note: this behavior is doubly important when expectations are being delivered over the phone.
  4. Body language. About 55% of the impact of communication is delivered via our body language. Thus, it truly is not what we say, but how we say it. So, similar to tone of voice, make certain that the body language you project mirrors the intent of your expectations. 
  5. Express confidence. Let your team members know that you are confident that they will meet or exceed your expectations. This is important for several reasons. First, it is the truth. Second, showing sincere confidence in others builds their self-esteem. In a world gone mad, we all need a nice dose of self-esteem building now and again. Finally, your expression of confidence will also build their feeling of confidence in you as a leader. Make certain that you use terrific eye contact when expressing confidence in others.
  6. Celebrate. Whether you celebrate by lauding praise, sharing money, or showering confetti, celebrate in some fashion when someone meets or exceeds your expectations. Most leaders do not hesitate to share constructive criticism when someone misses the mark. Why are so many so slow to praise a job well done – even if it is expected that the job will be well done? Do not hoard celebratory moments, let them fly. There is never a downside to celebration.   


Bottom Line: Just because someone has a job description, or even because they have been doing a good job for years, does not mean that what we expect of them cannot be reinforced. The people on our teams are not mind readers. Tell them what you are thinking. Tell them what you truly expect from them. Challenge their potential. Celebrate more. Then, sit back and watch your team soar.


Until next time….be well.


Doug Van Dyke is a leadership and sales consultant, executive coach, and business planner. He is also the author of Leadership Simplified – THE Field Guide for Savvy Leaders.  Doug’s audios and videos are also available at www.leadershipsimplified.com. To learn more about consulting services, coaching, and training, or to have Doug speak at your next event, contact him today at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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