The weight of expectation
Many leaders have high expectations of their teams and are quick to judge if they fall short. In my view, expectations are only valid if you also provide the support and leadership to develop people and help them bridge the ‘potential gap’ between where they are and where they could be. Leaders must ask themselves the following questions:
- Have I set an intention before I set an expectation from others?
- Am I clear in the action I am taking and have I communicated effectively what I want from my team?
- Am I the same person under pressure as I am when things are going well?
- Will my actions leave responsibility or choice with the individual or group?
- Do I encourage dreamers in my team and do I enable them to dream big?
- How am I going to support people at each step in their development?
Being a great leader doesn’t mean you need constant visibility and a podium position. I always think leading from the back is more effective. You may still be in control but your team think that they, quite rightly, own their success and ultimately they are your succession plan as the leaders of tomorrow.
When it comes to sustaining high performance it’s about developing a changing room that promotes honest, authentic communication and allows people to be themselves. It also means creating a culture that values hard work as well as talent.
I used to talk about the walls of the changing room acting as mirrors. If you allow that kind of transparency and reflection, you also need to be prepared for people to challenge your leadership, which is a healthy thing.
Great leaders are often naturally interested in human nature. Their ability to motivate and unite people relies on the following skillset:
- High degree of awareness
- Foresight and the ability to read situations
- A natural, unrelenting curiosity
- Mental resilience and fortitude
- Altruism rather than ego-led
Being a leader can be a lonely experience and it can be tiring and mentally demanding. Knowing your team inside out requires dedication, effort and a high degree of selflessness. However, it can be one of the most rewarding roles as you never stop learning from those around you and the chapters in your story are created by the people you meet along the way.