We’ve all been guilty of this mindset at some point in our lives, and you may have even heard this phrase spoken directly to you, “We’re our own worst critic.” Stress can cause us to shift from the highs of self-confidence to the lows of self-criticism in an instant, and we may not even realize when we do it. We unwittingly allow our circumstances to hijack our thoughts and behaviors, and create false narratives that begin to impact our self-image and our self-worth negatively. The trick is stopping that negative mindset shift in its tracks and replacing it with positive reinforcement by identifying and acknowledging realistic expectations.
As a leader, sometimes you need to give yourself some slack on managing expectations. Ania, my wife, told me the other day that she doesn’t feel like she’s as good a mother as she was before all this started. I asked her why she’d say something like that, and she said, “Well, I’ve noticed I’ve been more stressed, or I’m shorter with Michael (our son).” I said, “But you haven’t done anything wrong. He tests my patience sometimes too, but that is what he’s supposed to do at this age now.” I told her, “You’re going through a lot of stress, and you’re dealing with a lot of new and different things, so you should cut yourself a little bit of slack.”
In a moment of vulnerability, her mindset was hijacked, and the negative narrative took over. At that moment, my role was to recognize this behavioral shift, empathize by communicating my similar struggles, and positively reinforce and affirm her true value and worth as a mother and wife. It was important for her to know she wasn’t alone in her feelings, and that I was there to support her in any way she needed. It was at this moment when I needed to recognize the needs of others, uphold my virtues, and share my feelings. For the record, Ania is a high “C” style. In this case, I had shifted to an “ID” personality (normally DI), so I could show her encouragement, positivity, and the big picture behind the emotions she felt.
People know what the expectations are in the office, but do they know what the expectations are at home while working remotely? There was a similar scenario during the first week we all started working remotely. On our daily virtual meetings, it appeared a few people looked like they were in bed or had just woken up from a nap, while others seemed alert and ready. Many were not accustomed to working from home, which highlighted the existence of many different interpretations of “expectations.” For myself, I’ve worked for a long time with clients who work remotely. I knew expectations needed to be set for those who were, for the first time, working at home, and I needed to manage those expectations. Within a few days, it got better, but I had to share what my expectations were.
How you communicate your expectations as a leader can have a significant impact on your team, both positive or negative, depending on your strategy and approach. Sometimes it’s beneficial to “get real” and connect with your team at their level, so they have no doubt what your expectations are moving forward.
Watch this inspiring video of Simon Sinek meeting virtually with his team, where he delivers clear expectations.
His words touched me, and he’s right! We all may have different jobs by the time this is over, but it doesn’t mean different jobs with other companies. Our responsibilities within the same company may change. Together we can accomplish many new things if we are managing our expectations and realizing not everybody is going to be operating at full capacity during unprecedented times. You can’t continue to hold yourself and others to the same standards if they don’t apply the same as they did a month ago.
Don’t allow a lack of knowledge or understanding to hijack your team’s productivity or professionalism. By setting and managing new expectations in a changing and uncertain environment, you will begin to become more accomplished with a team who is both committed and encouraged to get the mission accomplished, together.