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The Dangers of Loose Expectations

Don't assume your team understands the outcomes you’re looking for when seeking results

A recent LinkedIn Learning survey of 3,000 professionals concluded that the inability to set clear and consistent expectations is hands down the most frustrating quality they have experienced in their managers. In our work with leadership teams of growing companies we witness first-hand the problems that ensue when expectations are unclear. In this article we will explore a few scenarios that illustrate why expectation clarity is so important; how individuals, teams and organizations suffer from unclear expectations; and what CEOs and leadership teams can do to build the discipline necessary to establish clear and consistent expectations.


Kick the can down the road. Early on a founder and her key principals worked hard to build a successful firm. The founder told the principals not to worry “I’ll take care of you” and she truly meant it, but she really had no idea what ‘take care of you’ meant. The firm was wildly successful and when the founder finally stepped back to create a solution, it fell way short of their expectations.

You know what they say about assumptions! A CEO and marketing VP agreed that it would be important to have a customer panel at their upcoming industry conference. The VP and her team worked for several months to build a great event including what they thought was an innovative customer panel. The day before the conference the CEO ripped into the marketing VP for ‘the stupid’ way she set up the panel.

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