The Perils of High Expectations

We, as leaders, hold ourselves to a very high standard of performance and expect likewise from our managers and sub-ordinates. We have high expectations which at times may do more harm than good.

Raising the bar high has benefits in terms of higher performance, realization of individual potential, and keeping people energized. Having high expectations also ensures that shortfalls do not impact productivity and profitability.

As leaders, we also need to recognize the perils of high expectations and I have over a period of time realized the risks and ways to minimize the damage.

The first thing it erodes is the self-confidence of people who fail to achieve the expectations. Pride is important for performance and a manager feeling peevish about falling short does no good to the organization and to your own personal equation with him or her.

The flip-side is that you may also start lowering the esteem of your manager in your own evaluation without realizing that you have set the bar too high. The unwarranted dissatisfaction with a junior may prejudice you in other unrelated areas. The dual impact can be minimized by keeping your expectations realistic.

Another harm is that high expectations are considered juvenile and summarily dismissed as impractical. This reduces the seriousness with which expectations are attempted.

High expectations do result in higher performance and taking care of a few things may mitigate the risk of undue damage. The first thing to do is to communicate the higher expectation more as a challenge than an irreversible ultimatum. Posing the expectations correctly ensure it is taking in the competitive spirit.

Learn to bridle your discontent. Missing your high standards is not the end of the world either for you or the manager. Communicate your dissatisfaction but leave room for the person to retain self-esteem and see you eye to eye with a promise to make it right next time.

Every person in your team must know that you value their contribution and that you know they are pulling hard enough. Keep the appreciation going right from 50% of achievement. Don’t wait for them to come close to 100 before egging them on. Keep the motivation constant.

Assess your expectations periodically and align them to the performance capabilities of your team. A burned-out team is no good for the next round. And finally, be good to yourself. You may be a superman but sometimes it’s okay just being human.

Hope you find this article interesting to reflect upon. Do appreciate your comments and share forward to benefit others as well.




Chirantan Joshi is the co-founder of the E-Movers group based in Dubai and is an avid proponent of business networking. Corporate Connections UAE is his act.

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Chirantan Joshi

Chirantan Joshi

Chirantan Joshi is the co-founder of the E-Movers group based in Dubai and is an avid proponent of business networking. Corporate Connections UAE is his act.

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