Effective leaders have a vision: Where are we going? For the sake of what are we doing this?

Fully embracing both the challenge and opportunity to lead with your eyes wide open takes courage. No one feels fully prepared for the breath of responsibilities and skills that are needed to successfully lead people and serve the organization simultaneously — I’ve learned this in my work with talented leaders.

There is an art and a science to successful leadership. Knowing how to dance gracefully between the art and the science is a critical skill for success. Start with exploring your awareness of other’s expectations of you as a leader. The better your are able to anticipate what is expected of you as a leader, the more proactive and intentional you can be in your leadership. Leading powerfully with confidence is a gift that comes from being self-aware and always learning.

This is part 2 in the 5-part series on Effective Leaders by Diana Gabriel, Certified Strengths Strategy Coach.

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Effective leaders must be sensitive to the expectations of those they lead. These expectations fall into two categories:

Explicit
The responsibilities fulfilled as part of your leadership role.
Vision or Direction
Strategy
Accountability
Execution
Fiscal Responsibility

Implicit
All of the unspoken expectations such as…
Trust
Competence
Reliability
Fair Treatment
Commitment
Engagement
Listening
Inspiration
Direction
Meaning-making

Implicit expectations can be minefields because they are based on perceptions and assumptions that may be unrealistic, are often misunderstood and vary greatly among stakeholders. Nevertheless, a leader’s effectiveness is judged on both explicit and implicit expectations.

Leaders who are aware know that they will always be judged. Success and failure depend on whether or not leaders understand and clarify these role expectations and keep their promises. Hidden expectations will never be discovered unless you uncover them through authentic dialogue.

Most of us assume we are on the same page as others, but every conversation offers an opportunity to elicit information about expectations. Given each person’s uniqueness – due to their strengths – a universal common sense does not exist. You can accelerate your leadership effectiveness by being curious, asking about, learning about and managing expectations.

The Four Promises of Leaders

Business success is not the only true measurement of leadership effectiveness. Your business may take off, however, you can still fall short as a leader unless you master the art and skill of influencing and inspiring your people for the long term.

Although followers often expect much of their leaders, you must, at the very least, fulfill four promises and meet expectations in four key competencies:

1. Vision and Strategy
2. Engagement and Trust
3. Execution
4. Leadership development

Setting the Right Direction: The First Promise

The first leadership promise focuses on vision, strategy, mission, and values. It is as much about people as it is about profits. To be an effective leader you need to be able to answer the question, “Where are we going?”

Stakeholders hold leaders to this vital promise because it establishes the “why” they are in business, as well as “what” the business will and will not do. This foundation sets direction and meaning, creating a culture of trust in which your people can thrive.

Direction and meaning set the stage for establishing a business identity and brand. As a leader, you need to be able to articulate your organization’s unique contributions to the world. You know that your people want alignment with company values and fair reimbursement for their work. They want to contribute to a purpose beyond profits, so you must ensure these values are publicized and practiced throughout the business.

As a leader, you are most effective when you communicate a noble purpose to every employee. Without it, people struggle to define why their work matters.

What is it like where you work? I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me here and on LinkedIn.

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