The Expectation Trap – On Rats and High Performance

Expectations impact the quality of your team mates and your enjoyment of your leadership experience.

Two questions:

What do you expect of others?

What do you expect of yourself?

Rat

"Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of being." Goethe

Expectation of rats:

Robert Rosenthal labeled some rats in his lab ‘smart’ and other rats ‘stupid’. Researchers who worked with ‘smart’ rats had better performing rats.

Researchers who worked with ‘stupid’ rats got what they expected.

The truth: All the rats were the same.

When you believe you have smart students, you treat them like smart students. And they perform better.

4 behaviors that produce smart students:

  1. Treat them with warmth.
  2. Provide more input/teaching.
  3. Invite responses more frequently. Smart students enjoy more opportunity to talk.
  4. Give motivational feedback. Smart students are praised more. And teachers won’t accept low performance.

“Treat people (or rats) as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of being.” Goethe

If you choose to think of team members as ‘smart rats’, keep it to yourself.

Expectation of yourself:

You are right to expect employees to arrive on time and do their jobs.

You have a responsibility to expect things from YOURSELF.

Expect more from yourself than you expect from others.

FOCUS on your responsibility to:

  1. Serve others, not on another’s obligation to serve you.
  2. Be trustworthy, not on people to trust you.
  3. Show up for others, not on others to show up for you.
  4. Go to others, not on others to come to you.

Dissatisfied leaders focus their expectations on others. “You are responsible to me.”

Successful leaders focus their expectations on themselves. “I am responsible to you.”

You enjoy a life of opportunity when you show up focused on your responsibilities.

You’re bound for disappointment when you focus on your rights.

What might leaders expect of themselves? Of others?

Listed above are 4 ways to bring out the best in ‘smart’ students? Which of the 4 seem most relevant to you today?

Bonus material:

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy in Psychology (Positive Psychology)

Pygmalion Effect (Wikipedia)