Dear Leader,

The bar on your leadership is exceptionally high. Do you have any idea how high?

You know you’re expected to set the vision and steer the ship. You know you need to set clear business growth targets, communicate them and motivate your people. You know you need to give them the skills and tools to enable growth.

But have you any idea how nuanced your peoples’ expectations are of you?

Have you ever asked?

I’m not talking about engagement or satisfaction surveys. They’re fine. They have a purpose. They just aren’t revealing enough to give you direct and clear feedback about you as a leader.

What I am talking about is direct conversations with your people, conversations that get to the heart of the matter on their expectations of you, based on what matters most to them.

Here’s the truth: They judge you against what they expect implicitly even if they’ve never said anything out loud.  And they may even have trouble spelling out their criteria if pressed.  They’ve likely never had to.

At times you exceed their expectations. At times you fall far short. But how would you know? And what might be different if you knew?

What would make it worth it to go to them, 1:1 and have those courageous conversations?

Here’s how you could plunge in:

  • What do you expect from me as your leader? What else? What else? What else? (Don’t stop until your “what else?” gets exhausted).
  • What’s the One Big Thing I need to work on to be a more effective leader? And to nail this One Big Thing:
    • What should I start doing (do more of)?
    • What should I stop doing?

And then what? Here’s your recipe:

  1. Take all that you’ve learned and reflect on it.
  2. Zero in on the most important One Big Thing that you heard.
  3. Start doing one key thing they said they want.
  4. Stop doing one key thing they don’t want.
  5. Keep the conversation open and commit to going back to those same people in 3 months to take a pulse on how you’re changing.

If you truly want you and your people to flourish, you had better start dancing more fiercely with their expectations.

Dear Leader: Your first step is a conversation.


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