How often does someone exceed your expectations? Rarely, if ever. What happens when someone does though? You develop a deep sense of loyalty and want to tell everyone about your experience.

The world is crowded at the level of mediocrity; where people deliver no more than what’s expected. In fact, many of us are so jaded by poor experiences with the products and services that we buy, that we’re often delighted just to have someone deliver what they promised!

Typically, we exert enormous amounts of energy to arrive at a signed contract; whether that’s an employment contract, a business deal, or a marriage certificate; then we stop. We believe that we now have a clear and precise definition of what success looks like to the other party.

Here’s the problem; broadly speaking, only one third of all expectations are conscious and spoken. That is, the other party knows what they expect of you and tell you what they expect of you. Another third of expectations are conscious but unspoken; they know what they expect of you, but they don’t tell you. Perhaps they’re afraid to tell you, or they think you should know. Either way, they have an expectation that you’re unaware of.

Most concerning, however, is that one third of all expectations are not only unspoken, but they are also unconscious. People don’t know what they expect of you, until you don’t give it to them.

In order to have a game you can win, you need to strive to make all expectations conscious and spoken. You need to shift from ‘high level agreement’ to ‘deep level alignment’; from platitudes to specifics. The pathway from one to the other is to ask three magic questions. Any time someone articulates any kind of need, want or expectation, ask; what does that mean? How would you know if that need was met? What would you see if I delivered?

A contract is like a dartboard. It’s possible to hit the board 50 times and still score relatively few points, or you can throw one dart and score 50 points. When you identify the real need beyond the contract, you can hit the center every time. That’s a game you can win.

Inspiration from others

“There’s no straighter road to success than exceeding expectations one day at a time.” – Robin Crow

“Leadership must first and foremost meet the needs of others.” – Robert K. Greenleaf

Questions to reflect on

  • How often are you surprised by others’ expectations of you?
  • In retrospect, why do you think that is?
  • What could you do differently to better meet others’ expectations?

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about PETER

For two decades, Dr. Peter Fuda has been a Sherpa to leaders, teams and organizations across the globe. He’s coached more than 250 CEOs to measurably higher levels of performance. His consulting company has delivered dozens of cases of business transformation and thousands of individual cases of leadership transformation, at a success rate of greater than 90%.

Find out more about Peter

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