We all have expectations. My expectations are probably too high at times. It’s causing issues and came to a head yesterday. Normally, I would think of this as something bad or negative about the person or group that doesn’t measure up. For example, if people describe what they do as going “above and beyond” and in my mind they are only accomplishing the base expectation, it makes me think this person or group is lazy, which 9 times out of 10 is not the case. I can’t go on like this and expect to lead effectively. I’m not exactly sure what to do, but here’s where I’m at with it.
I have a tendency to be anal and a bit OCD-ish. Honestly, at one point in my life I was diagnosed with OCD, but the doctor also said I’m at a level where I can control it (whatever that means). It definitely flares up from time to time and most often other people are the ones in the crosshairs of my wrath. At times, I have been obsessed with being perfect. I did this throughout college and got all A’s, I do this at work and it makes me very effective, at home it’s a different story. I’ve written about the obsession to be perfect and you can read about that here.
Even though I know all these things about myself and how I can be, I still think I’ve made progress. I certainly recognize it today and I try to make adjustments when I have unrealistic expectations. Sometimes, I don’t think my expectations are too high. I think that as a leader I inherently have them. No matter what the other person or group thinks of those expectations, they exist. It’s how visions are cast and goals are set.
There are times when I need to take a hard stance with my expectations and there are other times when I need to extend grace and mercy to the situation. I need to understand the entire scenario before I make a judgment. I guess that’s one thing I can do. I’m pretty sure that’s one of the habits of highly effective people, “seek first to understand then to be understood”.
This is hard for me to because I am Type – A and aggressive. I can be overbearing at times. I think people feel like they have to walk on eggshells around me when it comes to certain things. I don’t want to be that way. I’m going to need God’s help in order to reveal this character trait in certain situations. That’s another thing I can do, stay spiritually connected to God. Avoid situations or things that can sever my willingness to go to God first.
I just thought of another thing I can do, maybe I can just lower my expectations? In certain situations, I can certainly do that. My expectations are born out of my own wants, needs and desires. Instead of imposing and enforcing my will, I can check to see if my expectation is realistic and fair. I could even go a little deeper and try to find out why it’s an expectation in the first place.
But, aren’t there times when higher expectations are needed in order to push someone to higher levels of achievement? I’m pretty sure the answer is yes. In those situations, it would do the person or group a disservice to lower the expectations. They will never grow or expand their knowledge and abilities. I guess the trick is finding balance and understanding your audience. The truth is, some groups or people you lead will be happier and perform better at their current level. In other words, everybody doesn’t have a desire to do more or be better, and that’s okay if overarching goals are being met.
In my proofreading of this, I found a list for handling my tendency to place high expectations on others.
- Extend grace and mercy to the people in the situation. Try to understand what’s going on before making quick or snap judgments.
- Maintain a strong spiritual connection to God.
- Check the expectation, see if it’s fair and adjust if necessary. Try to figure out the “why” of the expectations.
- Understand the audience. Is this a situation where higher levels of performance are required?
There’s four things that I can do. It looks like this “boss in the middle” has a lot of work to do. First things first. I caused some harm yesterday and I owe someone an apology.