The way others expect you to respond often determines the way they respond to you.
This is a valuable principle about leadership you need to know.
If they expect you to respond in anger – they’ll dance around issues – never confronting them with you or bringing them to your attention.
You will seldom know the true health of your team or what others are thinking.
If they expect you to respond defensively or with a closed-mind to every new idea which doesn’t come from you – they’ll only respond to your ideas – refusing to take risks of their own.
You’ll be limited to how creative you are, but you’ll leave some of the best new ideas untapped and off the table.
If they expect you to respond with condemnation – they’ll be tempted to make excuses when things go wrong – and maybe try to hide them altogether.
You will be considered unsafe and treated as unapproachable.
If they expect you to respond with belittling or sarcasm – they’ll never be serious with you – you’ll never know their true feelings – afraid you’ll crush them if they do.
You will never really know people. They will only know you. And, they will be very surface-level with you relationally.
If they expect you to respond with the final say to every decision – they’ll soon stop having new ideas. They’ll wait before moving forward on anything new.
You’ll get to run every meeting and feel very much in control, but your team isn’t really a team they are employees. And, most likely very unfulfilled and under-utilized.
Insert your own examples. The way a leader is expected to respond, built over time by experience, determines the way people respond to the leader. Every time.
However, the contrast is true:
If they expect you to respond supportively – they’ll be more likely to offer their opinions.
You’ll hear the best they have to offer. You’ll encourage creativity and dreaming.
If they expect you to respond with care and understanding – they’ll be more likely to share their heart, their pain, their life with you.
You’ll truly know people and you will be able to lead more relationally than strictly because of your position.
If they expect you to respond with empowerment – they’ll be more likely to take risks and try something new.
You’ll get the best from people. They will feel more a part of a team. And, great things have a better potential to happen.
If they expect you to respond with grace – they’ll be more likely to share the good, the bad and the ugly.
You’ll know when they failed and they’ll come to you for help to improve.
If they expect you to respond with a listening ear – they’ll come to you when they need to bounce ideas – before they have all the answers.
You’ll become part of their development, helping them improve individually as they attempt to help improve the team.
Leaders, how do others expect you to respond?
There are so many other scenarios I could have offered. You have some of your own no doubt.
Think about it from how you respond. Don’t you tend to alter your response based on how you expect others to respond? Is this not true in family and friend relationships also? It certainly is in leadership.
Fair or not – as a leader, the response others expect from you may help determine the way others respond to you. Their response will be how we have conditioned them to respond to us, based on past experience of how we have responded to them.
More importantly, however, is ultimately our response to people in a great way determine the health of the team or organization.