We are all a walking bunch of expectations. Some involve solely our own behaviour, but for most of us they involve the behaviour of others or the achievement of an outcome involving others. I have always thought that being able to manage the expectations of others is a key skill. It certainly is in the business world. It is why the business world is so hung up on finding “influencers” and why being able to “manage stakeholders” is just as important if not more so than possessing any technical skills for a particular role. Managing stakeholders and influencing involves an intricate dance across a tightrope walk, with sometimes unpredictable results.
Like any dance, it requires practice, repetition and energy. Expectations are generally like trip wire unless they are communicated. They invariably aren’t and you only know you’ve crossed the invisible line when the alarm sounds.
Which is why having to do the same dance in non-business life seems exhausting.
Isn’t the theory meant to be that you find a group of friends and a spouse where you can be you, a you who will sometimes inadvertently disappoint by not meeting unilateral expectations? And isn’t the consequence of not meeting this expectation meant to be a moment of annoyance (if that) a possible readjustment of activity and moving on and getting on the with the friendship/relationship?
I’m not talking here about major life decision expectations, but rather day-to-day behavioural expectations.
It’s the age old social dance.
Lately, I have been constantly feeling like I’m being managed from the rear. True leaders lead from the front and are not afraid to articulate their expectations and to motivate their team to each those expectations. This is managing from the front. By contrast, managing from the rear is never putting your
expectations self out there, and manipulating others to fall in line with your expectations. The manipulation can come in several forms, including guilt, leverage or anger.
On one level, it is partly my fault by letting my people pleasing tendencies respond. On the other level though, people really need to learn to lead from the front and manage their own expectations.
Perhaps this is really what happens when two perfectionists with slightly different tendencies come together.
So I have come full circle on the need to manage others’ expectations. I think we all need to take hold of our own first and not require others to necessarily fall in line with our thinking unless this outcome has been expressly discussed.
Dealing with someone’s constant disappointment is exhausting and is as wrong as being constantly disappointed.
Lead me from the front and there is a chance I will follow. Because constantly looking in rear vision mirrors can distort the real image.