“Learning is a never-ending process” is a rule that applies to all fields and professions. Everyone in this learning process continues to discover new things in life either through books or experiences. Learning soft skills regardless of what position you hold is not only essential for success but also makes your personal life easier. If you don’t learn to improve yourself, you will resign yourself to suffering and hardship. When it comes to motivating yourself to learn new skills ― managing expectations is one of the most significant leadership skills you must possess, especially in Pakistan.
Challenges to leading in the public sector exist but it appears more challenging when the job demands objectivity, neutrality and impartiality. In spite of political ties heightening expectations through undue favors, often on the basis of biradari, the significance of expectation management rises exponentially. Many leaders, who lack this skill, avoid such positions due to fear of heightened expectations from others. Here are the paths to hone this important ability.
- Commitment strategy: This is important because you cultivate a plan of action which requires developing the ability to listen to the favor-seeker calmly and patiently. Never reach a conclusion instantly when deciding on your commitment. Assess the nature of the favor, determining the amount of time, energy and resource required. By cultivating this strategy, you will make commitments responsibly.
- Escalation of commitment: Human behavior is a complex as sometimes we commit without appropriate consideration. As a result, we escalate our commitment, driving negative outcomes. Never underestimate the cost of your commitment. Listen attentively and examine if you can entertain his/her request or if can seek someone else’s assistance. If the latter option seems more likely, never escalate your commitment. Evaluate the cost of the assistance you intend to provide in terms of consumption of time, energy and resource.
- Principle of reciprocity: This principle is not a one-way street traffic. The principle of reciprocation encourages the development of mutually beneficial relationships. When it comes to managing expectations of people by helping them, you yourself will eventually find yourself indebted to someone else. The favor-recipient takes his/her way and favor-doer now expects repayment. It is fair to give anything to someone without expecting a return but there is no such thing as a free lunch.
- Evidence-based approach: People come to you repeatedly, seeking favors verbally without presenting evidence. As an essential part of evidence-based leadership, you must ask them to produce evidence. When involving other parties in the case, you must hear the other party too before reaching a decision. Avoid impulsiveness in your decisions and wait light is shed on all the details.
- Crony approach: Everyone has a close friend in his life. Favor-seekers try to approach you through your friends. Given this situation, you have to explain to your friend about potential costs of such favors. Without doubt, circumstances hone your skills. This is the circumspect method of declining a request from friend, asking favor for others.
- Sources of power: Respond positively and remain calm. There is a comprehensive series of legislation, constitutional amendments, and judicial precedents that pave the path to gracefully refusing favors.
- Harnessing this skill is continuous learning: You are in a continuous learning process. You learn from your mistakes which teach you to respond more maturely and professionally in the future.
- Live up to your promise: Managing expectations never translates to not shed your commitment. Never promise any work if you have of no intention of doing so. Manage expectation directly by stating the reason ― using the sources of your power ― why you are unable to fulfill the request tendered.
Cultivating a strategy for expectation management never translates to selfishness. On the contrary, helping other people and being a pillar of support is universally appreciated.