At Luck, we recently put together a team to share Values Based Leadership with the world. Even though our team is chock full of talent, we’re still a new team, and new teams inevitably experience bumps. It reminds me of a team of NFL Pro Bowlers—all the talent in the world does not translate into a high performance team. It requires not just the expectation of high performance, but also the intention to build capacity for high performance.
Expectations include all of our wishes about what we want in the world: I expect trouble-free travel, great service at restaurants, and a cable company that cares about me as a customer. (My expectations often lead to outbursts of profanity—I may have control issues.) Expectations are human and normal, but when the world doesn’t meet my expectations, I get mad. (I often forget that I’m not in charge, otherwise the holiday season would not start in September and parking lots would make way more sense.)
What I can do, however, is choose my intentions. I can choose to behave as a leader, I can choose to show my commitment to my work and my family. I can choose to be a great team member.
Take Super Bowl XLVIII. It would be easy to focus on why Denver lost, but it’s more interesting to focus on why the Seahawks won. They were exceptional—great on defense, great on offense, great all-around. It took years to build them into a high performance team, to build their capacity to win. They had more than just the expectation that they would win—their quarterback Russell Wilson expected to win by at least one point—they had the intention to be the best football team they could be. Not ‘best bunch of individual players,’ but best team.
Leadership is about managing paradox—finding that just right place between expectations and intentions, between individuals and the team. Find the sweet spot and you’ll not only get the best out of your players, but you’ll be more satisfied in the long run. My intention is to help build the Seahawks of the leadership world; my expectation is that we can do it if we choose to do so. Now all I have left is to work on my control issues.