Berger Leadership Blog

Categories: Leadership

Why high expectations are good for business

Dan BergerLeaders are put in place to guide their organizations to success. The traits and skills you use to inspire and motivate your team are the biggest contributors to achieving that goal. Sure, you can identify new opportunities to expand your market share, make strategic investments to improve performance and so on. But, your people are who put those plans into action. You need their buy in and commitment.

As you know, I'm a big advocate of servant leadership. That means putting your people first and empowering them to do and be their best. They, in turn, feel ownership over their responsibilities and valued for their contributions.

So how do we help our employees be their best? You can start by setting high expectations. In a recent article on Entrepreneur, business guru Richard Koch argues that expectations become self-fulling. When you expect a lot out of your organization and employees – and have the leadership traits that motivate them in positive ways – they'll strive to meet those expectations.

Here are the five components Koch identified in successful businesspeople:

  1. Expectations are set much higher than is normal: This doesn't mean setting unrealistic goals. However, we will never grow or reach our full potential if we're content with doing the bare minimum. Annual reviews are a good time to establish expectations – you want to balance pushing the envelope to achieve new and great things without setting them so far out of reach that employees become disheartened and unmotivated.
  2. The entrepreneur isn't concerned by details but rather with changing the big picture: Having a sense of entrepreneurship is critical for all your employees. In today's environment, companies must be ready to adapt and take advantage of opportunities. Employees that recognize the importance of this will take your institution to the next level. They understand the company's mission, they are inspired by your vision, and they take steps to get there without being concerned about the status quo.
  3. They are unreasonably demanding of themselves and others: Without the right leadership traits, this can be a bad thing. No one wants to work for someone who's unreasonable in a mean way. Use your servant leadership to demonstrate that you push your employees because you care and want to see them succeed. The possibility of disappointment can be a big motivator, but don't punish failure. Use it as teaching opportunities for them to learn and grow from.
  4. There's a progressive escalation of expectations over time: It takes a while to get the hang of a new position. You hire someone because you see their potential. Give them time to learn and settle into the role, slowly ramping up their responsibilities and your expectations as you go. Employees should grow simultaneously with your organization.  
  5. The expectations are unique to the individual and can be succinctly expressed: Each of us have unique comparative advantages. Teams should have complimentary skills and knowledge that achieve success when working in harmony. Help your employees identify goals that are exclusive to them and how they support the success of the entire organization.

"The ceiling on your future is the most you can imagine and expect," Koch says. Don't let insecurities stand in your way of achieving great things. Coach your employees to challenge themselves and see what they can become.

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About the Author

B. Dan Berger, President and CEO, NAFCU

Dan BergerB. Dan Berger first joined NAFCU in 2006 and helped turn the association into the premiere advocate for the credit union industry.

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