L3: Set High Expectations

I love movies about teachers. One of my favorites is The Marva Collins Story.  It was through this movie that I was introduced to a phenomenal teacher from Chicago who believed in her students’ ability to excel in school and in life despite the distractions of difficult a home life or learning ability labels. In her book Ordinary Children, Extraordinary Teachers, Mrs. Collins states, “students like to be pushed. They want to do well. They want to succeed. And once they have a taste of it, they will never again settle for mediocrity.”

Like students, our coworkers hold the promise of the future. Part of our job as leaders is to help them realize this both internally and externally. When sharing ongoing feedback about employee performance, collaboratively set goals that reflect an expectation of excellence.

Our organization and community can also benefit from setting high expectations. When we envision and work toward an alternative future, its fulfillment is expedited by continually raising the bar as we achieve progressively more complex goals. Create a synergy among personal, organizational, and community goals through open communication and mutual support.

High expectations are not equivalent to unsubstantiated wishes. While it is important to always keep your vision of the change you wish to create at the forefront, recognize that the process of everyday life, and the needs of others, may not coalesce with your personal desires. Set expectations based on what you can reasonably foresee accomplishing based on your experience and wisdom. Break goals down into manageable tasks and engage the support and resources that are needed.  Hold yourself and others accountable every step of the way.  Raise the bar whenever a goal is achieved.

Reality does not usually catch up to our expectations in the way or on the schedule that we choose. Whenever this happens, reevaluate your goal to determine if it is truly in your organization or community’s best interest. Examine the strategies and tactics that were employed and make adjustments to improve your probability of success. Be patient and have faith that, in time, things will work out for the best. Remember that you can not always control the outcome, but you can control your input as well as your reaction to the outcome.

They say that people live up to their expectations. When we expect mistakes, obstacles, and failure, we create an environment of despondency. When we actively create a supportive environment that celebrates hopes, possibilities, and dreams, we create the conditions for personal and organizational success.

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