Values Assumptions Beliefs and Expectations (also known as VABE’s) are at the heart of our lives. These make us who we are, how we act, what types of decisions we make, the list goes on. They are subconscious thoughts and actions that people may not even realize what they are. These are important to identify and understand if someone wants to make a change in their lives.
Think about your core values assumptions beliefs and expectations and pick one that needs addressed. Don’t scratch the surface, think within yourself to come up with something you would like changed about yourself. For me? One VABE that I have is my belief that everyone on the teams that I lead should have the expectation that the task at hand needs to be done, and done right, no matter what the cost. This expectation is not necessarily a negative one right? On the surface, getting tasks done is a good thing. But, I’ve found that by having the expectation to get tasks done no matter what, is truly a negative expectation that I’ve put on myself and also have placed on some of the people I have recently led.
I did some research and found the following that supported my thoughts. Baker (1980) indicates that “All organizations have a culture – that is, some interrelated set of beliefs, shared by most of their members, about how people should behave at work and what tasks and goals are important”. Yes, it is an older article but rings true even today. What I realized was, that where I worked, the culture of the organization did not line up with my expectation of getting things done no matter what. Many of my workers fought back at this expectation, although I continued to lead by example, show that it could be done even when people point blank told me I was leading in the wrong way at my workplace. I just didn’t see it at the time while in the heat of the moment(s). Also, Classens, van Eerde, Rutte and Roe (2010) state that “The level of dedication and effort may differ strongly between individuals. A strong effect of Conscientiousness on task completion may be expected, because this factor encompasses tendencies such as order, dutifulness, discipline, task focus, and achievement motivation”. This comment fits in with my VABE because I didn’t take into account the person I was asking for the task to be completed. They could have various traits that I was setting them up for failure before I even let them know what the task was!
If you’re like me on this belief, it is important for to transcend this idea in our leadership lives because the approach on setting the expectation on people to get the task done regardless of anything else actually hurts in a few ways. First, the task may not get done with as much quality than it could have. Second, by setting almost unachievable task completion timeframes, people will not been happy. How could they follow a leader when this situation occurs? Finally, having this expectation on myself has made me burn out, working over 80 hours a week for an entire year because I felt I had to get tasks done no matter what. Yes, I was successful but at a significant cost for me, my wife, and my two boys 7 and 5. I’ll never get that time back with them.
I believe we can still be an effective leader by completing tasks but balancing “at all costs”. This will improve our effectiveness as a leader while still achieving the tasks at hand. What other values assumptions beliefs and expectations can we change? Stay tuned for more!