Many leaders are inclined to take on big challenges and make promises that will stretch their capabilities.  In fact, it may be a requirement of their job.  Can you relate?  Sometimes we make commitments with ourselves, but often there is pressure from others (customers, employees, peers, bosses, owners, friends, family, etc.) to do or deliver something by a certain time.  How do you manage this pressure?

Am I stating the obvious here, by saying that upfront is the best time to manage expectations?  Apparently not, based on my experience and the dilemmas that I see so many get themselves into.  When it comes to commitments, you have just a few choices:

  • Don’t make them.
  • Make them and hope for the best.
  • Make them and work your tail off to deliver.
  • Or, manage them better up front…
  • …to ensure it’s highly likely you will deliver.

Often the effort required to consider, plan for, and manage the expectations of others, in the beginning, is far less than what will be required to deal with unclear assumptions, un-reasonable requests, or uncomfortable excuses when expectations are unmet.

Clearly under promise, and then work as smart as you can and as hard as you must to consistently over deliver.