What the leader expects, is what the leader shall get.
Have you ever considered that what you truly expect from your team is what is holding it back. Understand this one simple concept and the sky is the limit.
Have you ever considered what your team could achieve?
If everything lined up and things went well what could they REALLY achieve?
Have you ever considered that one of the main things that could be holding the team back from reaching their potential is you?
Leaders are holding teams back …
One of my mentors was an Olympic Coach. I was fortunate enough to hear him speak at a conference to other coaches where he mentioned that the thing that could be holding an athlete’s true success back was the coach themselves. The response in the room was mixed. Some understood where he was heading, although most thought he had gone crazy. How could a person that was put in charge of an athlete’s development be holding them back?
My mentor went on to say that unknown to a coach (at a conscious level) we will only train an athlete to the level of success we expect them to reach. Our unconscious bias impacts all the decisions we make and that sometimes has a major negative impact on the people around us?
Is that the same for leaders?
It is all in the mind
From a psychological point of view, the above concept is described as the observer-expectancy effect where one person subconsciously influences another person. So if a leader has the expectation that a team member can only complete a certain level of tasks then the leader will only provide them with that level, thus impacting dramatically on the success of that person.
Research after research has demonstrated this impact. One, in particular, was a famous education example. Teachers were told that some of their students (randomly selected) would be ‘late bloomers’ and could be expected to have ‘growth spurts’ that would positively impact on their success. When reviewed at the end of the school year, those ‘late bloomers’ did significantly better than the nonlabelled students. The expectations of the teachers became a reality.
Turning to leadership, the book by Bruce Avolio, High Impact Leader (2006) highlighted that, “The so-called smarter or more motivated groups do better if the leader believes they are smarter or more motivated. Not only did the “better team” perform at a higher level but the participants on that team came to believe that their personal skills were raised to a higher level. This expectation of the leader ultimately improved work-related performance by an impressive 28%.
We could provide example after example in all areas of life regarding the impact of expectations.
Einstein once said, “ We are boxed in by the boundary conditions of our own thinking.” There is a clear message to not only individuals but to all leaders. If we believe our teams are going to be highly successful, or we believe that are not, we are always going to be correct. The conscious or unconscious expectations is a driving force to our team’s success so beware of your thoughts.
If you want to raise the success of your team all you have to do is raise your expectations.