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What Do You Expect? (#60)

The Confident Leader

I was invited to address a group of leaders before their strategic planning retreat. Their leader wanted the entire team to be actively engaged throughout the two-day event. So, I started the conversation with a question about expectations.

Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.
— Paulo Coelho de Souza (Brazilian lyricist and novelist)

This Week’s Edition

Oftentimes in work (and in life) we have expectations of others. But do we know the expectations we have for ourselves as leaders in certain circumstances? Find out how to be clear on your expectations.

Clarify Your Thinking

“What are your expectations for the retreat?” I asked. At first, they just looked at me. Some may have been too hurried to do anything other than just show up. Silently others might have been expecting me to give a motivational speech or possibly do an icebreaker.


Finally, someone exclaimed, “have fun,” in a tone insinuating that fun was not on the agenda. “That sounds great,” I said as I wrote his answer on the whiteboard.


I continued by saying, “know what you want. Know how to ask for it. At some point, you can’t passively rely on the world to deliver your experiences. You’ve got to take personal responsibility for your own experiences, even those you have to attend like a work event.”


This prompted them to shift their thinking. Their true answers began flowing, “I expect to learn something new; to get to know one another; to have fun!”


Old Thinking: Leaders who don’t know what they want, often question their circumstances:

·      Why am I doing this?

·      This meeting did nothing for me.

·      This whole activity was a waste of time.


New Thinking: Leaders who are clear on their expectations find themselves excelling on a personal, professional journey to discover things they did not know that help them realize their expectations.

post pandemic vision

Thoughts Lead to Actions

At corporate outings, there are often three types of people who show up:

·      The Prisoner: “I have to attend. I’ll do the minimum to check the box.”

·      The Vacationer: “Woohoo! No work. The happy hour will be fun.”

·      Participants: “I can’t wait to get involved. I’m going to learn something new.”


Your team can smell a prisoner in their midst. They can spot a vacationer a mile away whose active disengagement (head down buried in the laptop or in social media) sends the wrong signal to all involved.


How can you engage your team to be Participants? Get them involved? Motivate them to learn something new?


Ask them these three questions at your morning stand up, before each meeting, before each project or before each event:


1.   What are your expectations?

2.   What do you want to accomplish?

3.   How can you achieve those desired results?


Then, ask yourself the same questions. If you are not in the game as an active Participant, you can’t expect your team to be any further along than you are.


Boost Your Performance

One woman in the retreat group offered her expectation, “Be uncomfortable.” While this is the proverbial right answer, I was curious as to why she offered it. Her answer stunned me. It was leadership at its finest.  Find out what she said 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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