Leaders’ actions signal expectations

Our actions as leaders create expectations. As you move higher up in an organization, people start looking at you more closely. They look more closely at what you wear. They look more closely at what office hours you keep. They look more closely at the words you use. When I was working with the design team on my recently published book, I tended to send them materials and edits and ideas on the weekends. The weeks were so full so I pushed my book work to the weekends. Then, I noticed that some on my team were responding back to me on the weekends. It dawned on my that my weekend communications were creating an expectation that they should be working (or at least responding to me) on the weekend. The following week I corrected the expectation. I explained that they should expect to get stuff from me on the weekends, but that I didn’t expect any response or work until their normal business hours. I missed a rookie leader blind spot: Our actions as leaders create expectations. If we aren’t careful we can signal expectations that may not be what we intend.

by Jonathan Wilson

Jonathan is the Head Coach at Sandcastle Company, a Seattle-based leadership training organization. His first book, Future Leader: Rebooting Leadership to Win the Millennial and Tech Future [link], is now available. Jonathan regularly writes and speaks about The New Leader Way, leadership resilience, and the future of work. He has years of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors, a master's degree from Seattle University, and professional coach training from the University of Miami.

Filed under: Leadership

Published on May 14, 2019

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