Let’s continue to explore the concept of leading through expectations.

In a recent newsletter, I made the argument that even though it is common encouragement to lead with high love and high expectations, I consider expectations poison because they are behavior focused and therefore require the leverage of shame, which is effective but also cancerous to the soul (and the organization).

I had some agree with me.

I had some disagree with me.

And a few wondered if I have completely lost my marbles.

And this newsletter wouldn’t be as fun if I didn’t double down on a controversial opinion.

So, here it goes…

Don’t misunderstand my condemnation of expectations as soft leadership.

I am not advocating for high-love paired with low- or zero-expectation leadership.

I am proposing a higher law, a more profound way of leading.

You see, a leader must understand that those they lead don’t lack expectations.

Expectations are already in us.

It is part of a divine identity that was given to us long ago.

God made fish to swim, eagles to fly, and His children to become like Him.

Unfortunately, the attacks of mortality have caused our identity to be diminished to the point that we need help embracing this divine identity.

Albert Camus said it best: “Man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is.”

Offering expectations is such a minimal effort.

Revealing identity is the daunting task of leadership.

I guarantee you every coach in the NFL uses high expectations, but only one holds the Super Bowl trophy at the end of the season.

If you can convince a group of professional football athletes that they are champions, they will supersede any ambitious expectations set by their coach.

The same goes for a leader of a church organization.

If that leader can convince those they lead that they are a child of God, a child of the covenant, and a disciple of Jesus Christ, not one more behavioral expectation will be needed.

Like I said, this is a higher law.

Expectations are cheap.

Revealing identity is a journey.

It takes a different type of leader who is on their own quest for identity.

This quest for leading via identity takes away the manufactured goal chart.

It requires a leader to step out from behind the lectern and into the lives of those they lead.

It requires relationship, connection, vulnerability.

With that said, let me warn you that this is not an easy path: that’s why I frame it as a higher law.

If you were to follow me around in a leadership capacity, you would still find expectations creep in just like you would find me slumping into sin from time to time.

Expectations are necessary in transactional relationships or administrative tasks.

If I am a bishop, I am naturally going to “expect” my bishopric to show up to bishopric meeting each Tuesday night.

But when I am trying to lead an organization to a remarkable vision, pounding the drum of expectations will only get you so far.

Expectations may appear to stimulate progress, but at what costs?

Help them believe who they are, and then they will become who God intended them to be.


Kurt Francom
Executive Director
Leading Saints

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