Head Football Coach at Notre Dame. CEO for GM. Couple prestigious job opportunities have come open in the last few days. Dare I say each will also bring a healthy compensation plan and just a few “additional benefits”. However, just because the job sounds great, it does not mean it is the right next move for you, either professionally or personally. Sometimes there is a great deal more to consider than just the title, the compensation and the prestige when evaluating the next step in your career. Specifically, does the role entail realistic expectations?
Talk about situations in which realistic expectations are not exactly the norm. Turning around the massive, floundering ship that is GM while satisfying the UAW and answering to the federal government, or meeting the incredibly lofty expectations of the Notre Dame football fans and alumni, NBC and every sports talk radio host in North America. Certainly some tall orders. While we all embrace challenges and thrive in the face of adversity, the realist must consider what is truly expected relative to what is truly achievable. While we all have goals, make no mistake that in any situation there are other stakeholders and shareholders who influence and often set expectations regardless of how based in reality they or their expectations might be. In the end they will determine your fate.
The corollary to the above is that as a leader you have to not only evaluate if you have realistic expectations set for you, but are you setting realistic expectations for your team and organization? Ensuring you are putting yourself in a viable position for professional success is critical. Ensuring you have put others in viable situations with realistic expectations is equally important. In the end, how can you attract and retain the best talent if you have set unrealistic expectations for their performance.
Lofty goals are wonderful. However, lofty AND achievable goals are mandatory. If expectations are not based in reality, success will never be achieved. And just as success breeds success, so to the momentum of failure breeds its own sense of inevitability in an organiztion. Fair or not, morale on all levels is undercut by the perception of failure. Setting yourself or others up for failure by having unrealistic expectations is just plain silly.