Great Expectations … what really matters?

Recently my colleague Tom and I facilitated a business review, which included one to one meetings with leaders and a series of focus groups with staff.  A key objective of these reviews is to gain insight into our client’s current reality through the eyes of the people who work for them.  In other words we are looking to understand what the team believe is working well and what needs to improve.  From there we make recommendations about how our client can better leverage the potential of their team to achieve the objectives of their organization.  We intentionally schedule ‘back to back’ meetings over one or two days so we can fully immerse ourselves in the organisation and hear the key themes and consistent views that emerge.

Working through this most recent review process reminded me of the extent to which we always hear exactly the same things from people about what matters the most.  Every business is different with regards to their unique circumstances, priorities and challenges but what never changes are the things people expect from their boss.  It doesn’t matter the size of organisation, industry, profession or seniority of the people we are talking to;  nor does the feedback change relative to the perceived performance of the leader.  Regardless of where the business is at or what they are trying to achieve here’s the five things teams always say matter:


  • People enjoy working with leaders who they feel they know
  • Being ‘real’ is critical – few people respond well to the leader who is guarded or pretending to be someone that they aren’t
  • Most people simply expect leaders to be the best possible version of themselves
  • Being forced or fake is fatal to the credibility of any leader

Care factor

  • People want to feel that the person they work for cares about them and their development
  • Most also want to know that their colleagues are cared for
  • Kindness is a word we constantly hear.  Those leaders who are perceived as being kind are cut a lot of slack with many of their shortcomings looked past or forgiven by their teams
  • To quote a gentleman from a review we completed earlier in the year “he’s as mad as hell but the guy is kind – he seriously cares and that’s worth a lot”


  • People expect their leader to know what they are doing but just as important is their ability to tap into the capabilities of the rest of the team to get the job done
  • We find that so long as the leader knows how to get the job done, people don’t expect them to have all of the knowledge, skills or answers themselves

Accessibility and Visibility

  • Most people want and expect to have access to their boss; its amazing to me how many leaders still hide themselves away behind closed doors, walk through the halls with their heads down and ignore their staff in the lift or kitchen
  • It’s common for people to gain or lose respect based on the extent to which they observe their leader working in the trenches along side people to achieve the objectives they themselves have set

Trust and Respect

  • Care factor, authenticity, competence, accessibility and visibility all play a major role in creating trust and respect in any relationship; including between a leader and their team
  • A lack of trust and respect acts as a magnifying glass bringing into clearer focus the things people don’t like about their leaders character and/or competence
  • If in doubt leaders need to just ‘do the right thing’

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s