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Elizabeth George said that expectations have the power to destroy our peace of mind. As leaders, we carry not only the expectations that we put on ourselves, but of other leaders, our team, and the organization. We carry a heavy, lonely burden and often one that we keep well-hidden.

There are some guarantees, some definite expectations we should have as leaders. We can absolutely expect to carry more responsibility than others. We can expect to shoulder more blame than we deserve and get less credit than we deserve. We can expect to wrestle with hard decisions. We can expect to grow, to learn, to fail more than once, and we can certainly expect the unexpected.

As leaders we carry competing expectations. There are certain responsibilities we hold without give, and that is the cost that comes with the amazing privilege of leading well. We experience different rhythms in leadership that require different things from us. Some seasons will require us carry much more than others depending on what we are facing personally, what our team is going through, what phase our organization is in, and how we are progressing toward our strategic goals.

In the midst of these rhythms, we encounter both external and internal expectations. What expectations are real? Which expectations are perceived? What expectations are others holding that are accurately placed on us? Which expectations of others are ridiculous? What expectations are we putting on ourselves because our high achieving madness is taking over? How in the world do we figure this out?

These questions can be weighty, and it is healthy to pause and sort through these questions. It is helpful to know what your personal litmus test is to determine what is yours to carry and what is not. One incredible gift for you as a leader and for every single person on your team is to discern how to intentionally uphold a standard of excellence, take responsibility for what we need to, know when and what to delegate, and not hold onto things that we could give away.

Here are some questions to ponder:

  • What is your delegation gauge? (What could you delegate? Are you willing to let go?)
  • What expectations are real vs assumed?
  • If you are not meeting perceived or real expectations of others, how do you maintain peace of mind?
  • How will you personally measure leading with excellence despite not always meeting the expectations of others?