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Expectations: The Foundation of Leadership Success

By: Dr. Femi Skanes, CEO of Leadership EDGE, LL



Without a doubt, the essence of any successful organization or system is the manifestation of high-quality leadership strategies.  There are a variety of traits that contribute to successful leadership; however, one of the most important components of leadership rests with the expectations that leaders set for themselves and their organization. High expectations are the foundation of leadership success.  Leaders who demonstrate high expectations and high quality leadership strategies foster an environment that yields high results.

In a quest to ensure that high expectations are in place, successful leaders can use the Leadership EDGE “Expectations Pillars” to examine their leadership practices.  


Pillar 1 – Remember that expectations are a manifestation of beliefs and values.  Beliefs and values show up in actions.  Leaders who believe that an organization can succeed will behave in that way.  They are constantly striving to develop themselves and others to achieve their goals. 

Pillar 2 – When setting short and long-term goals, it is critical to ensure that realistic action plans are developed that mobilizes the organization for success.  When setting goals, the leader must believe the goals are attainable.  Do not set unrealistic goals.  Setting goals that are unattainable contributes to organizational fatigue, burnout, and apathy.   Unrealistic goals are not goals at all.  They are dreams. 


Pillar 3 -When setting goals, it is common for a leader to feel apprehension.  This is especially true when the standards for success have been raised or a new initiative is being launched.  Be willing to acknowledge the apprehension and determine the root cause.  Once you begin to identify the source of the fear and apprehension, then a realistic action plan can be set in motion. 


Pillar 4 – Expectations show up in the language that the leader uses. The leader should avoid making comments that exhibit skepticism in achieving a desired result.  Sometimes in a moment of stress, it may be easy to blurt out “we will never get this done”.  The leader may be saying those words in a moment of frustration, but those following the leader may take those words to heart.  You are responsible for setting the positive energetic momentum of the organization. The language of the leader matters greatly.

Pillar 5 – Once goals have been set and the organization begins to work towards those goals, ongoing training is essential in the growth process.  Organizations that value and foster professional growth usually remain successful in their respective industries.  Leaders within an organization must be models of excellence by engaging in ongoing learning.  Ensure resources are in place that allow all members of the organization to continue their growth.  Many people leave organizations (even successful organizations) when they feel like they are not growing in their career.  Ensuring that opportunities are in place for ongoing development is mutually beneficial to the organization.


Low expectations and quality leadership cannot exist in the same space.  Successful leaders set high expectations.  Where are you in your leadership journey?  Are you successfully implementing the “Expectations Pillars”?

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