How to get what you expect as a leader

Leadership often includes influencing people to get a desired outcome.

We all have personal leadership styles that we generally present when dealing with other people. When you interact with someone in order to guide or influence them in a positive way, you are practicing leadership. We often create problems when we expect others to adjust to “our” style. We may initially get what we want, but distance people in the long term. It is better to be openly approachable to gain the support and cooperation of others. 

Getting what you expect from people you supervise or interact with may seem obvious but we don’t often think about how to do it effectively. Simply assuming that your team will “know what to do” to be successful, whatever the task, is a recipe for failure. We need to think about other people’s “readiness” to do a specific assignment. Readiness is based on personal ability as well as personal willingness to do a job.

Ability consists of experience, training, and understanding exactly what is expected. The only true measure of ability is proven performance, not the potential to perform. Do people have the knowledge and skills necessary to complete the task successfully? Does your team fully understand what is expected, both in terms of personal performance and intended outcomes?

Willingness shows a person’s desire, confidence and incentive. The proof of willingness is “putting forth the effort.” Do they really want to do this job? What about their personal confidence to do the job well and be successful? Is there some incentive for completing the task correctly?

In order to provide duly supportive leadership:

  • Set personal expectations and actively work toward them
  • Set and share the expectations for your team
  • Remember that shared expectations help create ownership
  • Consider the strengths and limitations of your team
  • Be straightforward and honest                                    
  • Hold others accountable
  • Make expectations big enough to motivate, small enough to achieve
  • Be a visionary who can share ideas that will excite and involve others (Widener, 2011, p. 131-132).

Remember that leadership style is the way we are perceived by others when we attempt to guide them. When using directive behavior, a leader explains in very specific terms, what to do, when and where to do it, how to do it, and who is responsible. Communication is mainly one way and focuses on the other person’s duties and responsibilities.

Supportive behavior is when the leader sets positive expectations, encourages, listens to, praises, and helps facilitate the thinking of others. In supportive behavior the flow of communication is essentially two-way. Combining varying degrees of directive and supportive behavior produces your personal and distinct leadership style.

Direction? Support? How can I provide this in a way that is effective? Without taking the time to ask these questions first, leadership becomes a “shoot-from-the-hip” reaction rather than a mindful strategy to influence others in a positive way.

Additional resources:

Widener, C. (2011). Leadership rules: how to become the leader you want to be.  San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass.   

http://www.christophercoffey.com/html/documents/LeadershipStylesandReadiness_000.pdf

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