People who believe they can and people who believe they cannot are both usually right – Jo Owen
Great leaders must dream and aim high. High aspirations push us forward and upward, low aspirations hold us back. Staff follow managers who aspire to bring out the best in them; people follow leaders who have a dream and make them believe the improbable is possible. High aspirations come in many forms: quality of work, quantity of sales, teamwork achieved and also in personal development. Leaders must aspire big in the areas that matter in their work and the very best managers will create a team culture of aspiring to great things.
People follow leaders who make them feel the improbable is possible.
High aspirations aren’t just applicable to the end targets, i.e. % yearly increase in sales or in overall client satisfaction ratings, but rather are even more important to apply during the journey to get to those goals, i.e. the micro actions we do daily. Indeed leaders who demand their team achieve high long term targets but don’t apply high aspirations and standards to the day to day actions and attitudes are often the ones who talk a better game than they play. As the saying goes “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and neither is any great goal achieved that way which is why high aspirations must become a daily culture, a daily habit to push us forward to try harder and be better daily.
In the above table we can see some simple examples of how low and high aspirations can be applied with each having a consequence on our day to day work attitude. By nature low aspirations are limiting and often are used to justify a culture of excuses, i.e. if you talk down your sales targets, you don’t need to push yourself out of your comfort zone day to day as you already have under shot your goal. Likewise if each day you focus on what you can’t learn and do, you don’t need to push yourself to change. Finally if you complain about your incompetent boss or colleagues, you can justify failings through pointing the finger at others. The problem with low aspirations is although they can give some short term comfort, they will hold you back and limit your long term achievement which also adversely will kill your ambitions and ruin your work happiness.
Low aspirations usually form part of excuses that hold you back.
High aspirations – or expectations – are the opposite, they push and motivate you towards achieving goals. When you have a challenging objective to achieve in a month, you know you must act today as each moment and micro action done or not done will make a difference. Although it can never be guaranteed you will reach your demanding sales target, you will guarantee you give it your best shot. Likely 9 out of 10 times when you aim high and as a result push yourself harder daily, your end result will have been better than it would have been, if you had been limiting with low aspirations. High aspirations will also motivate you to be accountable for your own professional development, seeing learning opportunities in challenges you face. High expectations will also encourage you to work beyond and around issues that get in your way as you know without doing so you won’t get anywhere near your target. High aspirations – correctly applied – will make you and your team feel and think as the “A Team” one where succeeding is seen as the only outcome.
High expectations motivate teams to achieve more.
To be the great manager you wish to be you will need to be supportive and understanding but you will also need to set high expectations as by doing that you can make your team believe that greatness is possible. High expectations should be applied to long term goals but even more important is they influence and inspire your daily actions. The success we achieve and the difference we make is a key motivational factor at work and this is another reason why it is important to aim high and push yourself and your team to achieve more. So from now on, when you need 10, aim for 20 and then apply this high aspiration mindset to both your long term ambitious goals and daily actions and attitudes you need to get there. Just by aiming to achieve something great, you are pretty much guaranteed to have achieved more than if you had not aimed for anything at all and this point more than any other is why leaders must aim high.
If you want 10, aim for 20.