Leaders are judged based on certain results of their leadership. Most frequently, they are judged based on whether or not their results matched their commitments. Most of the time, I think this is reasonable. I think leaders are also frequently judged based on whether their results matched their intentions. And this I think is unreasonable if the leader did a good job of articulating commitments.
The problem is that when a leader’s results don’t match commitments or intentions, people get disappointed.
Intentions, Judgment, Results, Disappointment
Intentions – are our internal guidelines. They are our “wish” for achievement. They are often beyond our capacity or self-discipline. Intentions are aspirations. Intentions do not really need to contemplate the consequences of failure.
Judgment – people often judge others based on their own expectations. This is, in fact, an aspect of the human condition. I am allowed to set up expectations of you, and judge you based on my expectations. While you can say that it isn’t fair, and that you were unaware of my expectations, or that my expectations were unreasonable, we all judge others in the same way.
Results – this is what actually happened, and how others perceived what actually happened. Because results have a perspective aspect, different people can view the same results and make different judgments about them. Our perception of the results are often colored by our speculation about the intentions of the people responsible.
Disappointment – Regardless of your intentions, if the results do not match my expectations, I will be disappointed with you. Regardless if I do not communicate my expectations, I will be disappointed with you.
This is the condition in human society, even within the church. So what is to be done?
1) Manage Others Expectations. – Make explicit public commitments to specific results. Commitments differ from intentions, in that they are made in full contemplation of the consequences of failure.
2) Discuss Expectations in Public Forums. – Expose expectations in social settings, to understand whether results that you feel are achievable, that you could reasonably commit are valuable or important to those who are likely to be disappointed. If you understand people’s expectations, you can often reset them, by communicating what you are actually committing to.
3) Communicate Results – regardless of the results, make sure everyone knows what happened. Don’t appear to be hiding. When you don’t achieve things that you committed to, don’t make excuses, just make sure you are up front about it.
Someone once said, “Most people tend to judge others on results, but judge themselves on intentions.” This is why it feels so unfair to us when others judge us different than ourselves. Use commitments to even the standard by which we hold ourselves accountable, and by which we allow others to hold us accountable.