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How Leaders Set Expectations

How Leaders Set Expectations

Leaders are unlikely to attain their goals if they cannot clearly communicate what is expected of them to their workforce. There are various ways through which leaders can bring their workforce to what is expected of them. First is the review of performance. Essentially, workforce performance can be evaluated periodically based on given criteria of attained or unattained targets (Banwart, 2020). For instance, the number of units or customers handled by a given employee can be used to measure their performance. The worker will be deemed to have underperformed if they do not meet a certain threshold. The target set for a given performance should follow clear communication and explain to the workforce what is expected of them. Leaders should ensure that achieved yet challenging targets are set for their workforce.

Another way of communicating expectations to the workforce is through critical conversations. Notably, crucial conversations are different from ordinary conversations. They entail back-and-forth discussions with the workforce regarding what is expected of them. At some point, critical conversations offer the workforce an opportunity to select which leader expectations they can meet at ease, and thus, they will be expected to attain them (Saputra, 2021). Lastly, leaders document their expectations and post them on the workforce’s working site. At this point, the workforce is reminded of what they should do and how to manage their paths toward attaining the expectations. Notably, expectations conveyed through written documents should use clear and straightforward language. Essentially, this will ensure every workforce member finds it easy to read and understand. All three means of communication are effective ways to convey expectations to workers. However, critical conversations seem to be the most applicable for leaders because they allow both parties to discuss and set expectations that are achievable and accepted by both parties.


Banwart, M. (2020). Communication studies: effective communication leads to effective leadership. New Directions for Student Leadership2020(165), 87-97.

Saputra, F. (2021). Leadership, Communication, and Work Motivation in Determining the Success of Professional Organizations. Journal of Law, Politic and Humanities1(2), 59-70.

The ability to build strong relationships is a key attribute of great leaders. However, there are many facets to building strong relationships in the workplace. Leaders must coach performance, support their employees, set expectations, and engage in a host of other interpersonal activities that ultimately result in the formation and maintenance of a high-performance team that meets and exceeds organizational goals.


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If you are not already, imagine yourself in the shoes of a leader and answer the following:

How Leaders Set Expectations

How Leaders Set Expectations

One of the critical aspects of being a leader is understanding your workforce. What are key learnings that you would exhibit or implement in a leadership role to ensure that employees are aware of your leadership expectations?

Of the many techniques covered, which seem most applicable (i.e., critical conversations, performance reviews, etc.) and why?

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