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Living Up To Your Expectations

Dick Lynch is the Global Brand Leader at Popeyes. He tells this remarkable story about his first job out of college:

“I had always dreamed of a career in advertising, but could only scrape up enough money to attend a small, rather undistinguished Midwestern college. When I graduated with a business degree, Madison Avenue wasn’t beating down my door. I’m a resourceful guy, so I took a job delivering Snap-On Tools trucks to various destinations around the US, in order to interview at ad agencies I had previously targeted along the way. On my first trip, I scored an entry level position at a major national agency.

My first boss – let’s call her  Sue – was not the least bit excited about my arrival at the agency. She had been hoping for someone with better credentials, a pedigree more like her own. I was a skinny kid from Wisconsin with no relevant work experience. One look at me and she was deflated. In her view, she had drawn the short straw.

Over the next several months, her worst fears came true. I didn’t have the skills she wanted me to have. I didn’t have the pedigree of my peers. I had no work experience to draw on, so I became the loser she expected me to be. I did not disappoint her.

Nontheless, luck (or providence) came my way and I was re-assigned to a different account team. My new boss – let’s call her Tracy – was thrilled I had been assigned to her team. For some reason, she thought I was the brightest, most creative, most imaginative young account guy in the agency. She sat me down and explained what we would be working on. She told me she was confident that I would contribute my best work. I left her office beaming.

And guess what? I lived up to her expectations too. Overnight, I became the brightest, most creative, most imaginative young account guy in the agency. Tracy saw me as a winner. And I did not disappoint.

The lesson I have carried with me my whole career is this: Expect the best of people, and they will give you their very best. Expect the worst, and you will get that too.

There is no better story to sum up what great leaders do.

Great leaders expect the best from their team.

They welcome you, inspire you, grow you, and celebrate you.

And because they do – you give them your best work.

Are your people living up to your expectations?

Serve them well.


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