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Always Be Expecting
Expectations are a massively core principle to my own being. I attribute a lot of my success in becoming a leader to the introspection and sharing of expectations. In recounting my one-on-one formula I talked a lot about setting and resetting them with your direct reports; doing so builds trust and provides clarity.
But well beyond being a tool to strengthen working relationships, constant self-reflection on expectations and alignment across business partners and project collaborators can increase productivity and the success of work.
“What should I expect?”
That’s it. Form a habit of asking this question.
- Before starting a new project: How will it go? What should I expect to be difficult?
- When tackling a new task: How long do I expect this to take? What are others’ expectations around how this should be done?
- In meetings: What are we all expecting to get out of this discussion?
“What do you expect?”
Just as important as it is to exercise your explicit internal conversations around expectations, external discussions around what others think are essential to aligning on what needs to be done next. It allows us to measure the differences between multiple perspectives, and most importantly unify ideas and desired outcomes before pressured conflict forces it out.
Clarifying your own and others’ expectations is a solid tactic to address upcoming unknowns and tackle work productively and confidently. And while you might not always fully reveal the fog of war ahead, it will give you tangible readiness to face things as they come, as surprising or unsurprising as they might be.