People know how their leaders rate them. They know in what performance category they have been placed. The leader’s verbal and non-verbal cues convey their thoughts about and level of expectations for others. People interpret these cues and adjust their behavior accordingly. That is, people live up or down to the level of expectations set for them. The leader’s expectations for others are a direct predictor of their performance. Leaders must never hold people to low standards because it decreases performance and prohibits growth.
A leader’s expectations for others become self-fulfilling prophecies. If the leader thinks someone has high potential, they will see high potential. If they think someone has low potential, they will see low potential. Stereotypes, both good and bad, become reality. Leaders must always step back to ensure that they are setting high expectations for people. By focusing on the best in others, the leader creates a culture of high performance. By focusing on weaknesses, the leader create a culture of low performance. People do not get inspired by focusing on their weaknesses.
Leaders should not see people as either high or low performers. Instead they should focus on helping them unleash their talent and realize their full potential. When leaders communicate high expectations for others, they get the best from them. A leader’s goal is not to get people to think more highly about them. It is to get people to think more highly of themselves. While leaders should not condone poor performance, they should choose to see people with unused potential. People rise or fall to the level of expectations set for them. Always set the bar high.
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