Dave Kier is a long-time entrepreneur, business leader and IBEC board member. He wrote this earlier this year with a focus on a culture of high expectations, and it is Part 2 of two blogs on team culture.
Larry W. Sharp, BAM Support Specialist, IBEC Ventures
Whether we realize it or not, we all have expectations, usually more for others than for ourselves. We expect our children to do what we tell them. At work, we expect everyone to do their jobs as required, but the wise understand the expectations placed first upon themselves. Think of what the Lord expects of us. Jesus said to seek His kingdom first before we (not they) expect anything from this life (Mt. 6:33). He said we are to pursue holiness (Heb, 12:14) and we are love Him with a sold-out love and then to love our neighbors (Mt. 22:37-39).
I have noticed some people are raised in homes with low expectations and in my travels around the world, I have noticed some cultures innately have low expectations for themselves and others. Those who have been oppressed for generations, often have a fatalistic mindset. Life has been hard for generations and what’s to think it will change now, they may say to themselves, yet deep inside there may be a yearning to fulfill their God given capabilities to be creative and rise out of the rut they are in.
As a leader, one of your key responsibilities is to establish and maintain expectations for your company, organization, or even your church – not for your good but for the good of the organization. You likely have goals, but I am speaking in a broader sense. I am speaking of establishing a culture of high expectations, a culture that hates mediocrity. A culture that says we can do better. A wise leader has high expectations to become better and he/she strives for their area of responsibility to become better. Being better is a moving target, for there is always better to achieve. Better is measurable, and wise leaders set benchmarks that tell them if they are improving or not. You can see “better”, you can sense “better”, and you know “better” when you walk on the premises.
We are in the seemingly impossible position of being content while at the same time being discontent. We are to be content with who we are and what we are called to do, while discontent with our results, always pushing for “better”. When we understand our role in pushing the organizations towards better, we can then focus on expectations for those we are responsible for and the results they are to produce. Human nature with some is to push back when we begin holding them accountable for expectations; yet I believe a majority of people want to do better. A majority of people have pride in their work – or want to. Those who don’t often have low expectations of themselves and of life which is reflected in their work.
If you have staff members that are producing substandard results and they know they are, then a discussion must be held with them to see if they are in the wrong chair, if they are discouraged and to the point of giving up, or if they simply don’t have the skills needed. What you want to determine is if they have the “fire in the belly” or the expectations to get better. The reality is that some are either in the wrong chair or don’t care and would be better suited to work elsewhere.
Your role as a leader is to establish a culture that has reasonable but high expectations for themselves and the organization. Expectations! Life is about expectations.