Expectations And Promises

October 21, 2013

If responsibility is the foundation, then expectations are the framework for healthy, interdependent relationships at work. Interdependent partners in effect look at each other and say “your expectations of me in this relationship are legitimate.” In unhealthy relationships, one person assumes the posture that “only my expectations of you are legitimate – your expectations of me are irrelevant.”

expectationsEven if your boss assumes this unhealthy posture toward you, it does not relieve you of the responsibility to expect things of her in her role as a leader. Much of the malaise we see in leadership today is not so much a failure of leadership as it is a failure of followership. Way too many followers don’t see it as part of their legitimate role to have expectations of leaders and to hold them accountable. If we don’t assume this posture as followers, healthy relationships at work will always elude us.

Great leaders not only hold people accountable for reasonable and explicit expectations, but also invite accountability from all their followers. If you are a purposeful leader, followers that hold you accountable for reasonable expectations does not threaten you at all.

Once you know the expectations of your partners, make a promise to deliver. Any of you that have ever made a promise know that is a different level of commitment. Promises enable the strong, binding ties of covenantal relationships.

Want to take your leadership to the next level? Make time to ask your constituents what they expect of you, promise to deliver, and invite them to hold you accountable.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Related Posts:

Leaders Are Master Learners

Interdependent Covenant Relationship

Questionable Leadership 



About the Author:

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Simon Harvey says:


    Very interesting blog and video. I like to think that what you put into life is what you get out. You can not change other people, but you can change the way they react by changing yourself.

    If your expectations of me as a follower is anymore than I can give, then you set yourself, and me up for failure. If you tell me your expectations and I as a follower feel they exceed my capabilities, then will you ever actually see what I am capable of.

    While expectations may give some direction, I would like to hear the goals we have as a team, understand my role in this and learn the procedures. What do I expect from you as a leader, nothing more or less than you can give. Is this an expectation, I’m not sure, but life I think runs more on belief than expectations.

    We have linear minds but live in a non-linear world. If we have expectations of success and it does not come then it is all too easy to point fingers (linear).

    I get what you are saying but perhaps my model of expectations is just different to yours. Thanks for the insightful post.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Simon. Perhaps our models are different. When people assume the leadership role on a team, I do expect them to care about others, to listen, and to help the team achieve and others on the team learn and grow. I think those expectations are simple and reasonable. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Bret