Do We Expect Too Much from Leaders?

The Expectations of a Leader

Are leaders expected to know and do too much? Over the course of my career in leadership and employee training and development, I have been astonished by the endless stream of books, blogs, and advice so-called experts relentlessly distribute to practicing leaders. Each year, literally thousands of leadership resources are published, spanning philosophical, self-help, and academic circles. The deluge of tools, skills, and fads just keeps coming—and from all corners.

female leader providing feedback

For many leaders, it has become difficult to discern what it takes to simply be a good leader who is intent on doing the right thing for his or her direct reports as often as possible. When well-intentioned leaders see leadership assessments that include a hundred or more leadership competencies or attributes, it can be pretty overwhelming. In fact, many leaders become discouraged just trying to keep up with the most recent leadership theories, techniques, admonitions, concepts, and fads.

Helping Leaders to Reach their Potential and Feel Satisfied

Unfortunately, it’s easy to see why so many leaders feel like they’re drowning in their responsibilities and the expectations associated with their role. Between managing the business, staying reasonably current in their profession or discipline, and trying to be a good leader of people, it can be hard to keep your head above water. The bar has now been set so high that people struggle to reach that unreasonable standard, which can cause many leaders to feel extremely unfulfilled by and unsatisfied in their role. Think about it. We ask individuals in leadership positions to be highly emotionally intelligent and excellent team players in addition to being enterprise leaders, situational leaders, transformative leaders, servant leaders, collaborative leaders, virtual leaders, strategic leaders; the list just goes on and on.

If we are going to help leaders reach their potential and experience satisfaction in their roles, we need to focus on the core elements that encompass good leadership. We need to set reasonable expectations. We should not make leaders feel like they need to be super-human in order to do an adequate and thorough job. We should ask them to focus on the critical few. Here are our top 10 questions for gauging your leadership capacity and skills. Answering these questions honestly will help you focus on the leadership fundamentals and assess where you might need to improve.

1) Do you coach and give people feedback well?

2) Do you create a clear direction and vision for you and your team?

3) Do you collaboratively solve problems and make decisions?

4) Do you delegate tasks and responsibilities effectively?

5) Do you mediate and resolve conflicts and differences constructively?

6) Do you make yourself accessible to others and remain open-minded to new ideas and input?

7) Do you practice essential communication skills like listening, asking questions, and sharing your opinions clearly?

8) Do you maintain your composure and steadiness during times of adversity?

9) Do you encourage people to cooperate and work as a team?

10) Do you flexibly adapt your style as needed, strongly directing the work of others as necessary and collaborating with and empowering people in other situations and when appropriate?

Applying the classic 80/20 Pareto principle will help you use some reason and logic when it comes to assessing your leadership competency and identifying your priority areas for additional development and/or personal opportunities for improvement. If leaders can keep their eye on the leadership skills that are most critical to their success and work to develop their competency in those areas, they will be well on their way to becoming stronger, more effective, and more satisfied in their roles.

To learn more about CMOE’s leadership-development products and services, visit www.cmoe.com.

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About the Author

Emily Hodgeson-Soule

Emily Hodgson-Soule has worked with CMOE since 2009 and is the Director of Program Design and Development. She holds a Master of Professional Communication (MPC) degree with dual emphasis in writing and multimedia. Emily works closely with CMOE’s client organizations to assess their internal training and development needs and provide learning solutions that fulfill the requirements and the strategic goals of each organization.