I remember the first time I became a leader, I called a meeting with my team and said, "Here are my expectations of you." When I finished, I asked if there were any questions, and one of the team raised his hand and said: "Do you know what are our expectations of you?" As this was my first leadership role, the question took me by surprise -- and to be honest, I didn't, as I had only ever thought about leadership from the perspective of the leader. It was understanding their perspective and what was expected of me that allowed me to improve my leadership.
Here are 10 things teams expect from their leader.
Clarity of goals and objectives is essential for success. It allows the team to focus on what's important, which increases their effectiveness and helps them make progress. Teams don't necessarily expect the leader to know the exact route, but they do expect them to be able to clearly define the destination.
Leaders are responsible for the development of the people they lead, and the best way to facilitate that is to give them challenging opportunities that allow them to grow.
Teams don't just want to be there to carry out instructions; they want to be able to have some input, some involvement in creating the plans. That doesn't mean that, as the leader, you should defer to your team, but listening to their suggestions does help increase their engagement and commitment.
Trust is a key component of leadership, and nothing builds trust faster than keeping the commitments you make. Leaders who fail to keep their commitments quickly lose any loyalty and support that their team was willing to offer.
Consistency is expected two-fold: On the one hand, people expect everyone to be treated the same (i.e., no favoritism), and secondly, they expect consistent behavior, that what they did well yesterday will still be perceived as a good job today. Leaders who are inconsistent in how they treat and react to their teams create nervousness and stress, which never aids performance.
It never ceases to amaze me how many leaders bemoan the lack of respect that they receive, yet fail to respect their teams.
It costs nothing to respect our teams, and the payback can be immense. The simplest way to show your respect is to listen to your team, ask them what they think, or ask for their input.
I know that at times you cannot tell certain things to your teams, but that doesn't mean you have to lie. When you lie, it kills trust and respect and will make them doubt you going forward. Teams understand that at times you cannot say anything. One of my best bosses would always just say, "I'm sorry, but I am not allowed to answer that." While I didn't like that answer, at least I respected it, whereas a lie would have cost him that.
Praise is one of our most basic human needs, and when people do a good job, they expect to receive that from their boss. It doesn't need to be over the top; it can often just be a simple "thank you" or "good job, well done." Praise is one of a leader's most powerful tools, yet too many use it too sparingly.
Timely, Constructive Feedback
We all make mistakes, but criticism rarely helps to fix them. What teams want is timely, constructive feedback. If the result is not what you expect, then let them know, but do it in a way that allows them to learn and improve, so that they will know how to avoid the mistake next time.
Stand Up for the Team
Too many leaders just throw their teams under the bus when things go wrong. But as the leader, when things go wrong you're still part of it, you can't just disassociate yourself from the failure. That doesn't mean you need to put your hands up and say, "My fault," but you should look to defend your team and protect them from criticism. Leaders who do that will find that their teams will stand by them when things are not going well, but when they don't, their teams will leave them to struggle.
I worked for one boss who constantly threw his team under the bus, and then he had a crisis and needed people to work the weekend to save the situation and his reputation. Not one person volunteered. If you want the support of your team, then you need to support year team.
Leaders who meet all 10 of these expectations will have built a loyal, committed team that they can rely upon, a team that is engaged and will do its best to be successful.