Those who lead inherit expectations from their team or organization. Some of those expectations are critical: Building healthy teams; serving one's staff; removing barriers; clarifying what is important and so on. All supervisors and leaders have an unwritten contract with those they lead around these key issues. Leaders ought to pay close attention to those leadership traits that promote clarity, health, alignment, accountability and results.

But, there are also expectations that simply come from history (what the previous leader did), personal preferences (this is what my leader should do) or my version of what a leader is and does. This is one of the primary issues pastors face because there are as many expectations of what a pastor should be and do as their are members of the congregation. These unrealistic or false expectations can cause issues for leaders unless they are personally clear as to what is important to them in their leadership role.

The expectations of others are a trap because no leader can ever fulfill all the expectations that others have, nor should they. There are simply too many. Leaders must be clear about what is important to them in leading well rather than trying to fulfill the expectations of others. Furthermore those expectations, (other than the critical obligations every leader has) are often distractions to good leadership, rather than contributors to the mission. 

Leaders must have a clear understanding of their strengths and those things they bring to the table that are critical to the team or organization they lead. If we as leaders are not clear on our priorities, others will gladly step in and define our priorities for us. In that scenario we are not leading: others are leading us. 

If we are driven to please others by meeting their expectations we are more concerned that people like us than that we are to lead well. Our goal should not be that everyone likes us but that those we lead respect us, and that we serve them well. There is a big difference between the two. The best leaders have conviction and clarity as to what their priorities are and it does not include meeting all the expectations of others. 

What is important is that leaders can articulate clearly what their priorities are and what staff can expect from them. And then consistently deliver on those commitments. Clarity and consistency generate respect and stability. Lack of clarity and inconsistency confuse those we lead. 

The expectations of others usually come from how they would live or lead. But they are not us. "But our last leader...." is not an uncommon phrase. Bless them for how they did what they did but we are not them. It is why in organizations I have led there are some non negotiable expectations of leaders, but how they do what they do is highly flexible. Leaders are individuals with their unique gifting, personalities and even quirks (yes we all have them). All of us must  lead from who God made us to be. 

When we get caught in trying to meet the unrealistic or false expectations of others we inevitably get out of our best lane and it hurts our leadership. Ironically in trying to meet the expectations of others we often end up hurting our staff because we are no longer leading out of who we are, or focused on the clarity that we ought to have. The clarity of a leader keeps them from the trap of expectations that would otherwise be a distraction to their leadership.

  • Apr 18, 2023
  • Category: News
  • Comments: 0
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