One of the most important and effective things any leader can do is to raise expectations — for his organization and its people. If you don’t raise expectations — consciously and intentionally and on a regular basis — they are being lowered by default. The default is what happens when you do nothing. Employees will not only begin to lower performance expectations on themselves, but will get distracted by things that have nothing to do with your business goals. It’s human nature. So you have to counter that by raising expectations… and there’s no better time to do that than in January as you set your goals for the year.

At the core of all our approaches at SI is the belief that human beings are always capable of more than they are currently doing. A person who’s pushing their capabilities is a joy to watch — they are happy and proud of themselves. Conversely, unhappy people have convinced themselves they can’t do any better. They’ve quit the game of doing.

Happy people are fully engaged in life. They’re being challenged and growing… even if they don’t realize it! A good leader helps people be the best human beings they can be by giving them challenges; by putting them in positions to learn and grow and achieve more than they thought they could themselves. Which brings us to…



Delegation is a process of “selling” and “buying.” Few people know how to effectively “sell” delegation. You do so by explaining, “I have an important project that I need someone to head up. I’ve thought a lot about it and looked around at all the people who work here. In my opinion, you’re the absolute best fit for this assignment. I hope you agree because it’s a tremendous opportunity for you.”

That’s selling! How can someone say no to that? You’re not falsely manipulating the person because you only say this if it’s all true; you only sell to the right person.

How the person responds determines if they are “buying.” In the vast majority of cases, they will “buy” the opportunity from you because good people want opportunities and want to succeed at them. They will be so excited to know that you think they are special; that you picked them over everyone else. You’ll be able to tell from their facial expressions and energy; they will get excited, and respond “If you think it’s right for me, then I’d love to do it!”

Interestingly, delegation is a way of testing loyalty. Loyal employees will jump at the chance to take on more responsibility to impress and please you.

You’ll also be able to tell from their reaction if they’re NOT buying it. The person may say they don’t really believe what you said is true, or tell you they have something going on in their personal life so would be too distracted. Then you simply take the opportunity back.

Most people TELL others to do things instead of using the selling and buying process. Yes, there are times when it’s appropriate to just tell a person to do something. But when it comes to running a Patient Appreciation Day, or being responsible for the purchasing program, or project managing the new building construction, or handling marketing — these aren’t things you can just tell someone to do. They need to buy the opportunity from you.

If no buying takes place, it’s a fair guarantee the project won’t go well, or won’t get done at all. The “seller” will be grossly disappointed, the “non-buyer” unhappy and resentful about the added workload, and clearly no growth and development will have taken place!

So think about how YOU typically delegate, and make this the year you learn to do it the RIGHT way!