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The Death of a Leadership Mantra

By August 15, 2017March 29th, 2024No Comments

We have all heard, “You get what you Inspect, not what you Expect.” This is directed toward leaders to elicit better performance from their people. The notion is, leaders too often think, “My people know what I want them to do, and they will do it or else they won’t be on the team. And frankly, I don’t have time to follow-up anyway.”

The leadership mantra of today should be…You get what you expect if you Connect, Direct, & Reflect.

 So, if you want your people to perform, you need to invest time into getting to really know them, which includes their life outside of work to build a true connection.  You need to be willing to share real things about yourself, so they will feel safe about sharing important things about themselves – this builds connection! Do you know the town where each of your people live, the number of kids or pets they have and their names and ages? If not, how connected are you?

No one likes being “checked-up on” – not the person getting checked nor usually the person doing the checking. So, it doesn’t’t happen. It’s dead. But the idea behind it was a good one, just miss-directed (pun intended). You can’t assume you have the same expectations; you have to provide clear direction as to what you want them to do. 

For example, I was talking to a group of new logo sales hunters and was asking them how they approach their first cold call.  I was shocked to learn 9 of 10 said they don’t make cold calls anymore.  I was impressed thinking their Marketing engine must be bringing in lots of good leads, but as I asked questions about that, they said, “No we don’t get many good leads at all – contact information only.” So, how do they start a sales cycle without picking up the phone?  As is too typical, they send off an email or LinkedIn request and risk being buried in the target’s inbox. So without a real connection created over the phone or in person, they aren’t hunting as much as they should be. 

Sales leaders often don’t communicate a direction to make X number of phone calls or spend X amount of time making connections with targeted buyers. Likely, their managers assumed a business developer would just do it. So, for the few most important things you expect from each person, you need to be explicit about what you expect from them.

Both you and your employee need to reflect on their progress against expectations and key performance metrics.  While in the 50s and 60s, leaders were told to inspect people’s work, today we need to ensure performance metrics are in the person’s hands first. They need dashboards and analytics at their fingertips, on their mobile devices whenever they want them, to tell them how they are doing. They need to reflect on their results and consider what they could do better or differently to boost their performance. Of course, the leader needs to reflect on their performance too, like any good coach would.

So, if you want to lead a strong, well performing team – you need to remember that you will “Get what you Expect, if you Connect, Direct, and Reflect!” Make it a personal mantra for your own success starting today! 


Personal Challenge: Schedule at least one hour each month for the next two months with each person on your team to Connect, Direct, and Reflect on them, their performance and development. Ask them to reflect on their own performance and where they want some coaching in their execution overall. You should truly connect with how they are feeling, where they are challenged or need more development, raise their accomplishments, and/or investigate why they haven’t met expectations. Create a plan together to determine what they can do differently to get caught up. Ask them to share their reflections. Provide input and coaching advice.



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