Creative Leadership

The Best Leaders Expect the Best in People

Great leaders expect the best in people and bad leaders expect the worst.  Rinse and repeat. Over the years I’ve worked with a number of leaders who think leadership means constant criticism, ordering people around, snarky comments, and humiliation.  Those leaders (although I don’t think they’re real leaders at all) actually expect the worst in people, and that’s why they treat their teams so badly.   These leaders respond to everything as if you’re trying to cheat them.  They use exclamation marks in all their communication.  They’re always upset about something.  But guess what?   You get back what you put out and your team will start responding in the same way.  You’re actually creating a culture of distrust and deception.

On the other hand, study after study, along with expert advice and lots of experience tells me that people respond far better to “aspirational” leadership.  That simply means leaders who expect the best in people, are the leaders are actually get their people’s best.

Stop the snark.  Cut the criticism.  Being a bully doesn’t work.  If you need to be a jerk to jack up your ego, you need to get out of leadership and find a counselor, because you need help.

Beginning today, let’s commit to encouraging our team’s best by expecting their best.  Respect them.  Care about their success.  Give them space to fail, and stop being vindictive if they do.  Grow together, and you’ll start seeing a dramatic change in your relationship, your results, and in your journey to success.

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  1. One of the greatest challenges is to overcome the situation where you believe all this marvelous realities but you find yourself under leaders that don’t, I’m passionate about generating a transition that produced that shift!, If I just knew how to start… Bottom up leadership?

    1. We call it “leading from the middle” Ruben. Yes – sadly, very often we have to lead organizations even when we’re not officially in charge. Sometimes, the “official” leader just doesn’t get it, and other members of the team need to step up. Very insightful, and thanks for posting.

  2. Hey Phil. Great to see you guys in Nashville at NRB a few weeks back. Your thoughts on “Servant Leadership”

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