Leadership Expectations

Leadership Expectations

Vivek Jayaraman
30th Mar, 2020

Leaders make promises once they step into their leadership role and may not be even aware that they are making those promises. These promises often come out of unspoken expectations from the leaders. Understanding these promises, managing, and living up to them defines one’s leadership. Leadership expectations come in two forms:

Explicit expectations: Leaders themselves express certain outcomes based on their role and job description. It could be something like strategy, execution, fiscal responsibility, and so on.


Implicit expectations: These are the expectations that the stakeholders have of the leaders. The leaders rarely do understand the impact of these expectations and the effect that it has on their overall effectiveness. Some of them are commitment, engagement, listening, fair treatment, competence, being an inspiration, and so on.


Leaders are assessed based on both implicit and explicit expectations. Even though the expectations at times are unrealistic, the leaders are expected to fulfill these expectations by the stakeholders and the followers. The majority of the time, these expectations are unrealistic. Because of their unrealistic nature, the leaders feel that they are set up to fail to lead to the failed efforts of fulfilling their promises. Leaders do succeed with the clarity and expectations of their role. Organizations do succeed depending on their leaders fulfilling their promises of leadership.


There was a survey conducted on identifying leaders who meet or exceed expectations. People are asked to identify extraordinary leaders with whom they have worked. People cannot identify more than one or two leaders as the bar for leadership is set too high. The expectations are set in such a way that only 5 to 10% of the leaders do meet them keeping the promises.


One may wonder, why would someone become a leader keeping in mind these expectations. Coming to leadership, is a responsibility. The responsibility is not straightforward and or affected by the increase in change, complexity, and connectivity. Life is in a complex domain and one cannot predict what may come. Leadership lies in accepting what had happened and working towards making it right. Take an example of the COVID situation, every nation’s leaders are expected to make decisions and things which are right for their people. Both implicit and explicit expectations are there and they will be unrealistic considering the situation at hand.


Despite all of the challenges they face, great leaders do love their jobs as leaders. Some may even call that a calling. Many great leaders see them as challenges than hurdles or blockers. They do operate with more transparency and disclosure as they endure greater scrutiny. The leaders use these chances to influence people, create positive results, and change things. As we have discussed earlier in the article, it’s a responsibility and great leaders do handle these expectations with ease.

This is just a speck of knowledge on your journey to becoming an expert in the industry. If you have any doubts or require career guidance, feel free to connect with our Industry experts and trainers for 1-on-1 coaching

"We upskill and boost your career by providing a wide range of courses such as CSPO, CSM, ICP-ACC, etc. visit our website to learn more about all the courses we offer."

Mastering Leadership: An Integrated Framework for Breakthrough Performance and Extraordinary Business Results  Book by Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams 

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