Only with clear expectations of ourselves and of others can we generate key outcomes. These 2 stories demonstrate the effect of expectations and few ways to gain clarity.
Clear Expectations & A Senior Role
A few years ago I worked with a mid-level leader with aspirations for a senior position in a firm where there was a lot of opportunity, given the baby boomer exodus. He was clear on his expectations for his career. But he wasn’t clear on how executives saw him. So he tested the waters. He put up his hand for a number of head office driven projects to contribute to the company beyond his location and to develop relationships with key decision-makers. Soon he was being recognized in the hallways at head office and asked to take on bigger project roles. Then he threw his hat in the ring for that senior position he has targeted. Executive leaders knew him and appreciated the relationships he had formed and the results he contributed to. Those executives, who would ultimately choose the senior leader to fill the role, received calls from other leaders saying, you really need to put this guy in that role. By being clear on his expectations, laying a roadmap of opportunities that would benefit him and the company, and getting great results he ultimately gave the executives a chance to formulate expectations about him as a leader who would be successful in this new role. He now leads their largest operation.
Clear Expectations & A Smooth Transition
A President, Vice-president and senior leadership team were preparing for a change in leadership at the same time the economy was dipping and their industry was changing. Everyone knew the Vice-president would assume the role of President after the groundwork was laid, but it was unclear was how this would happen and what risk this would create. Through facilitated conversations among the leadership team and between the President and Vice-president only, expectations on how the transition would happen were clarified. This growing company had outgrown its structure and processes and didn’t use data very effectively. The incoming President made clear that he would examine specific parts of the company with the team and they would make systematic change. The former President would play a role in a subsidiary company. Employees now knew what to expect over the next few years as changes were made and expectations of them shifted.
At least one leader in each of these stories was clear on the result they wanted. This clarity came first. The road map came second and was adjusted along the way. The results came third. Where do you need to be clearer about your expectations? How might you help those around you to get clearer about your expectations?