Chapter 1 The Promise of Leadership: Meeting the High Bar of Expectations

When we step into positions of leadership, we make a whole set of promises we may not know we are making. These promises are profound and come in the form of high, often unspoken expectations. Understanding, managing, and living up to these promises defines our leadership.

We all expect great things from our leaders, and these expectations constitute the Promise of Leadership. Leadership expectations come in two forms:

  1. Explicit: Expressed expectations for certain outcomes that come with the role and that show up in the leader's job description (things like fiscal responsibility, accountability, strategy, and execution).
  2. Implicit: Unspoken expectations that stakeholders have of their leaders (things like competence, fair treatment, commitment, engagement, listening, acting on suggestions, and providing inspiration, meaning, and direction). Leaders rarely understand the impact these implicit expectations have on their perceived effectiveness.

Stakeholders judge their leaders' effectiveness on both explicit and implicit expectations, even if these expectations are unrealistic or not understood. When you take on a leadership role, followers silently believe and expect that you will fulfill both my explicit and implicit expectations. However, since these expectations are sometimes unrealistic and often unexpressed, leaders may feel that they are set up to fail in their efforts to fulfill the perceived Promise ...

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