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Just Lower Your Expectations… (#61)

The Confident Leader

The pain we experience in life is the difference between our expectations and what actually happens. Consequently, we adopt coping mechanisms to avoid the pain associated with unmet expectations. Lowering our expectations seems like a decent solution, but its drawbacks are significant.

Expectation is the root of all heartache.
— William Shakespeare

This Week’s Edition

To be effective, leaders cannot merely lower expectations when their team does not achieve the goal. Instead, they can change their approach to their expectations as a leader to put themselves, and their teams, in a position to be successful.

Clarify Your Thinking

“Robin, I’m at a loss. I’m going to lower my expectations because I can’t live like this anymore. This team simply cannot produce the results I’m looking for in this environment,” Sam offered.


“Sam, this sounds good in theory, but I’ve seen this approach lead to several problems.” I responded.


“Like what?” he asked.


“Well, leaders I have coached have found that, when they expect less from their people, the team either hits the lower expectations or finds a way to perform even further below the lower expectations”


“Really? That’s awful,” Sam said.


“Some leaders report that when their team does perform at the lower expectations, they secretly relish being right about the situation, ‘See, I knew that’s what would happen!’ I’ve found that as humans, we are heat seeking missiles to prove we are right even when we don’t like what we are right about.”


“I can see that,” Sam admitted.


“Sadly, I’ve observed that all of this makes leaders a little more cynical than they want to be, while flirting with being a little indignant, ‘am I the only one who keeps their commitments or follows through on what I say I will do?’”


“This seems like a downward spiral,” Sam said. “What are my other options?” 


As leaders, we have an opportunity to reframe our thinking. Instead of placing our expectations in someone else, we can refocus our thinking on what we expect from our own leadership.


New Thinking: I have considerable expectations for today. My expectations are to:

·      Serve others

·      Lead my organization well

·      Positively influence my clients

·      Make an impact on my sphere of influence

post pandemic vision

Thoughts Lead to Actions

Sam chose to increase his expectations for his own leadership. This changed the way Sam saw his team. Instead of continual failure to meet expectations, Sam saw his day-to-day as an opportunity to inspire, teach, train and coach his team. To put into practice the leadership skills he cultivated. While his results were not always perfect, he met his expectations of taking the leadership bull by the horns.


As a leader, every day brings an opportunity to do the very thing you are training to do, lead! Put your unmet expectations (and the associated frustration) to the side and recognize the opportunity to live out your leadership expectations.


Focus on the following three steps for the next week:


Step 1: Identify the expectations you have of your leadership.

Step 2: Observe your environment for opportunities to lead.

Step 3: Step forward to lead using your influence to impact an outcome for the better.



Boost Your Performance

When your team is missing the mark, resist the urge to lower your expectations. Instead change the way you are forming your expectations. Inspire your team to reach their potential by making a bold move like the leader in this week’s video.

What’s Your Opinion?

What are your expectations for your leadership for the rest of the year? Share it with me at

Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

If this was helpful, feel free to share it with another leader who needs to defeat doubt and complete their confidence.

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What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.

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