Bridging Leadership Lessons from the Workplace and Those Experiences Shaping Today's Youth and Tomorrow's Leaders
In my last post, I distinguished the difference between managing expectations and leading people. The purpose was to highlight the critical nature of having expectations that are aligned and understood to help a leader guide and motivate their team to achieve success. I identified 4 reasons that a leader may struggle with the process of managing expectations and provided some examples. In this post, I want to share a personal experience with my youngest child that I believe speaks to the heart of this subject.
My youngest son is a dedicated basketball player. When he is shooting alone, he is focused and pushes himself in where he focuses and the types of drills he does. He chooses when he has had enough for the evening. He finishes every workout by making 10 free throws in a row. If he misses, he starts over. Ethan is probably close to a 90% free throw shooter so if he does miss, he is not happy. If he hits the rim, but it still goes in, he is equally not happy. It is easy to say, “why does that matter? A make is a make.” But even at the age of 14, Ethan understands that hitting the rim means he missed his target and if he varies off-target more the next time he hits the rim, it could bounce out. The more consistently he swishes the shot, the more control he has and the better accuracy. He is effectively managing expectations.
As his confidence grew from his workouts and playing, he chose to increase the difficulty in how he closes out his workouts. After hitting 10 free throws in a row, he then had to make 10 3-point baskets in a row before leaving the gym. This one caught me off guard because I know that even though there is no defense on you, it's much more difficult. But he surprised me and would easily finish his workouts without a miss and never more than three misses. Until one day, we spent 40 minutes trying to hit 10 in a row. He would get 8 or 9 in a row and then miss. He would go 4 for 5 multiple times in a row but he couldn’t string together 10 makes.
He was angry. He grew increasingly frustrated. I finally held on to the ball and he stared at me with fire in his eyes. I said “you may not have hit 10 in a row, but did you realize you hit 8 and 9 in a row multiple times? Do you realize that you never missed more than 2 in a row? You may not have hit 10 in a row, but you are shooting between 70-80% from 3-point range!” He fired back at me, “That is not my goal!” in a release of the frustration that had been building inside him. I firmly responded, “then you have the wrong goal.”
He quickly reflected that it isn’t about the number, it’s about the consistency. Getting hot and making 10 in a row while shooting 30% overall is a streak shooter. A streak shooter can both win and lose you games. Creating a rhythm and routine to reinforce accuracy and consistency is the key to success.
In this specific example, Ethan needed some assistance in managing his expectations. The goal he had set for himself was commendable and lofty, but when he stepped back and looked at the goal and compared that to his desired outcomes, he quickly realized that when he stopped looking at the goal as a standalone metric and instead, considered it in the context of his why and desired outcome, the misalignment was clear. He then needed assistance to “reset” the expectations he had and change his definition of success. Expectations need to be actively managed and understood so that an action plan can be created and executed to help them meet those expectations Beyond Today.
Tom Brown - a husband and a father who is simply trying to make a difference. Using my experience as a Manufacturing Executive to connect leadership from the boardroom to the hardwood to help teams grow and develop to make a difference in the lives of others.