My apologies to Charles Dickens for ripping off the title of his classic novel, but Great Expectations encapsulates an important principle of leadership. Great leaders have great expectations, of themselves and teams.
A team will never exceed its leader’s public expectations of the team. If the leader aims high, the team will do likewise. If the leader has low, or no expectations the team will almost certainly be mediocre.
There are two types of expectations: Public and Private.
Public expectations are those the leader shares with the team. These are the leader’s voiced expectations. These are the expectations where the leader should aim high: high, but REALISTIC, while still STRETCHING the team.
There is much to consider here. A leader must have high public expectations, higher than the team would expect of themselves. These expectations must stretch the team to perform at a higher level, but the team must still have a chance of success – around 60 to 70 percent.
Target setting with a team takes thought, salesmanship and practice.
You must decide what targets are acceptable to you; these are based on YOUR goals. Consider each salesperson’s current skill level and how far you feel each salesperson is performing below his or her potential. Consider each salesperson’s current performance and calculate an average month. Next, consider what extra actions are required by each salesperson to increase production by 50 percent in the coming month.
The next trick is to SELL THEM ON DOING THOSE ACTIONS. This is where your leadership and selling skills will be needed.
You should not impose your targets on your salespeople. Instead, sell them on the idea of achieving higher targets. Talk with them about what they could do with the extra income (a mini goal), and get them excited about the possibility of higher achievement. Talk about the extra action required, and ask this question:
Can you do it?
All you are asking is whether or not they feel they are capable of doing these additional actions. If the actions are well considered by you, then you know they are capable but you have to get each team member to agree. When you get a “Yes” response, ask your next question:
Will you do it?
This question is important. Just because somebody can do something, it does not mean that they will. The “Will you do it?” question is a commitment question, but there is one more question, after you receive a “Yes” response:
Now commitment becomes a matter of integrity. You are not asking the salesperson to promise to achieve the increased target; you are asking him or her to promise to do the ACTIONS necessary to reach the increased target. This is not much to ask if the actions you propose are within the salesperson’s capabilities and are fair.
Once you have commitment and promise, when you talk to your team about targets, you talk about the increased target level and of how proud you are of each person for stretching their levels of action and performance. You talk about how you cannot wait to write big bonus cheques. This is positive pressure to perform.
Private expectations are those you think: you definitely keep these to yourself!
Although you publicly