Leading Ideas: Expect Greatness

“It is the nature of man to rise to greatness if greatness is expected of him.” — John Steinbeck (1902-1968) American writer

Currently one of my clients is on the short list for a top position at a leading investment management firm. While he always knew he was good at what he did, the opportunity has quickly thrust him to a new level in his career. It’s been remarkable to watch his transformation. His management tendencies have grown into leadership tendencies. “My perspective shifted when I realized I was a candidate,” he noted. “They thought I could do it and I didn’t want to prove them wrong. Necessity is the mother of invention.”


Something to consider:

When you expect greatness from someone, you set the stage for them to be great. You stretch their thinking. You help them raise the bar on what they see as possible for themselves. You force them to realize that playing small is not acceptable. And they usually rise to the occasion.

Something to try:

1. What would greatness look like from you or your team?
2. Be specific – how would actual behaviors be different?
3. Share your thinking with your team. Get input where appropriate.
4. Start to EXPECT those behaviors.
5. Make sure you embody those behaviors yourself.

Question: What forces you to rise to greatness?