Ep 94 // A Leader’s Guide to Setting Expectations

Ep 94

In this episode, Akua explores the third pillar in her three-step leadership framework: setting expectations (sometimes referred to as goals setting, OKRs, or KPIs). Akua uses her own experience as a case study to illustrate the importance of setting expectations for yourself, and she highlights the impact of expectations on personal and professional growth.

Whether you're a solopreneur, team leader, or aspiring achiever, this episode will empower you to set clear and realistic expectations for yourself, be consistent, find the right support, and ensure that your projects align with your ultimate vision. 

What's Covered in this Episode About Personal Branding

  • Explore the distinction between working "on" your business versus working "in" your business and the significance of time management and capacity. 

  • Delve into the mindset of a practical thinker and an abundant thinker and how these different perspectives shape expectation-setting and decision-making.

  • Learn the art of breaking down projects into achievable tasks to avoid demotivation and burnout, and don't be afraid to invest in helping to conquer projects outside your wheelhouse.

  • Discover the three often-overlooked elements of expectation setting: timing, responsibility, and defining success.

Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations

  • "When it comes to expectations, leaders can never think set it and forget it." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

  • "Setting expectations is not the same as executing them, and many times as ambitious and high achieving leaders, and I definitely put myself in that bucket, we are unrealistic." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

  • "The key question you should be asking yourself before attempting to implement or execute on an expectation on an OKR on a goal on a vision, whatever you call it, is, why are we? Or why am I even doing this? And if you cannot answer this question, you might want to rethink, reflect or push back." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

If you've enjoyed the Open Door Conversations podcast, please leave a review.

Mentioned in A Leader’s Guide to Setting Expectations

Get to Know the Host of the Open Door Conversations Podcast

Learn more about your host, Akua Nyame-Mensah.

Akua is a certified executive and leadership coach, recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker, and former startup executive. 

Since 2018, she has had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from high-growth startups to multinational brands all around the world, to maximize people, performance, and profit.  Outside of her coaching and corporate speaking engagements, she is a regular mentor, coach, and judge for various entrepreneurship-focused organizations.

Stay in touch with Akua Nyame-Mensah, Leadership & Culture Advisor:

  • Read about Akua’s services if you’d like to learn more about how you can hire her to help you strengthen your organization’s culture.

  • Complete her contact form to jump on a call.

Playlists-Wide Rectangle Ad

Here’s the transcript for episode 94 about A Leader’s Guide to Setting Expectations

NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 00:00 When it comes to expectations, leaders can never think set it and forget it. Hello and welcome to the open door conversations podcast. My name is  Akua Nyame-Mensah. I also respond to Aqua and Akua. I'm a certified executive and leadership coach recognised learning and organisational development facilitator, speaker and former startup executive. And I am so excited because this year I'm celebrating five years of working for myself five years of supporting leaders. And I am so grateful because I've had the opportunity to partner with amazing organisations from high growth startups to multinational brands all around the world. In 2022. Alone, I serve over 600 Yes, over 600 leaders around the world and in this podcast, you will have the opportunity to learn my three step leadership framework. I actually break it down in Episode 71. I use this framework with my high achieving and entrepreneurial minded clients that are juggling a million responsibilities so they can easily build wealth. This three step framework is going to teach you how to leverage your innate personality to learn how to prioritise and maximise not just your time, but also your money. You don't have to work harder or turn into someone else to get more gun. Let's tune into this week's episode. Hello, and welcome to this week's open door conversations podcast episode, I started off our episode with a quote from John C. Maxwell, he is a New York Times best selling author, coach and speaker that is an authority on leadership. And I think that quote is incredibly relevant to my mini series all about expectations. If you have not had an opportunity to take a listen to the intro episode to this mini series, please make sure you take a listen. It's simply the solo episode before this episode, I think it would be really helpful to sort of set the expectations of what you're going to get from this mini series. Today, what I wanted to do was share an extended case study. And hopefully by listening through this case study, you will get an idea of why it's so important to set expectations for yourself. And for others, I spend the majority of my time with my clients actually doing expectation setting. So in the shownotes. I'll include some existing blog posts and podcast episodes that I think will be helpful in relation to this pillar. The first is three things most leaders get wrong about goal setting. It's a LinkedIn audio event that has been repurposed. And when I think about why it's so important for us to reflect on this, what comes to mind is that so many of us are conducting appraisals, setting goals and updating our strategy for the year. All of those things involve setting expectations. And so this audio event is focused on goal settings, and how goals ultimately are meant to help us focus and filter. I like to use the word filter because goals to actually help us decide what we should be doing day to day. And that's one of the things we're actually gonna be talking a bit about in this episode as well. So if you want to take a listen to that LinkedIn audio event, check out the show notes. The second piece of content I wanted to share in relation to goal setting and expectation setting is episode number 28. It's a hashtag ask Akua episode, and it's all about goal setting tricks. So I would say both of these pieces of content are a bit more tactical than strategic. And today's episode, I'm really going to go through my thought process and the thought process I support my clients with to help you understand goal setting and expectation setting from a more strategic perspective. But please do listen to episode number 28. I also think that would be incredibly helpful. In that episode, I outlined mistakes that I see leaders make, and I give you a plan some elements that you can consider. It's a five step system for leaders that they can keep in mind to set motivational and engaging goals. So if you find goal setting icky, or maybe you only remember your goals at the last minutes, this episode will help transform the way you think about goal setting. And I'm actually thinking about doing sort of an updated version of this episode as my next episode. Still trying to decide if I want to do that. If you have any questions or thoughts about that, feel free to reach out but let's get into today's episode. As I mentioned earlier on, I wanted to use myself as a case study to walk through some of the key questions and thoughts that I wrote flecked on as it relates to setting expectations for myself and within my business. So this summer, and I know some people were like, What do you mean by summer and by summer, what I simply mean are the summer months. So I'm talking about June, July and August. So this summer, I've planned to really focus on my branding, my messaging, my positioning, I'm updating my website, and I'm making a lot of decisions about my services and the investment required to work with me. So shameless plug, be on the lookout for all of those things. And a key thing, as I reflect on some of these things I want to do this summer are these projects and initiatives, right, because these are quite big things to be doing within a business, even though I work for myself. But one of the things that is really important to recognise about some of this work that I want to do is that all of these things are not things that I'm an expert in all of these things caused me a lot of analysis paralysis, which is sort of my version of overwhelm that I tend to get. And all of these things when I'm reflecting on them, as I'm working on them, cost me a lot of emotional and mental bandwidth. And they also do cost money. So there's also this financial impact that all of these initiatives all these projects have. And these are things I've been working on. Another key thing that comes to mind, as I think about working on these projects and initiatives is that these are all outside of my normal day to day work. These are outside my normal task, because normally what I'm doing is, you know, prepping for coaching calls, prepping for workshops, doing business development, you know, actually coaching and training and having conversations, that's what I actually do for a living. And so that is very different from working on branding, and messaging and positioning, which is working on my business versus working in my business. And so these are some key things that I reflected on, and I think is important for you to also reflect on whether you have your own business or you are a leader, a team lead within a department, the projects and initiatives that you're looking to work on, is it about things that are on your, you know, business or related to on your department, or is it about the in piece where you're actually doing the things, the task and the work that you actually get paid for. And it's important to make that distinction. So as I mentioned before, these are all new, massive initiatives and projects and completing these projects is a goal. Right? I haven't defined them very specifically, I don't plan to define them very specifically within this episode. I don't think that's important. But what I do think is important is that I've recognised that this is going to take me away from the work that I do day to day. So as I set this goal to complete these branding projects, and what I want to do related to my messaging, it's important to recognise that I need to find the time to get them done. Because this is not my regular day to day work. This is not what I get paid to do. Another key thing to keep in mind and to reflect on is that I can't do them at the same time that I do my normal day to day tasks that I technically get paid for. I could do them before, right. So maybe waking up earlier starting my day earlier, I could do them after. So that's working longer. But ultimately, that is not sustainable. And it's definitely not sustainable for someone who's a solopreneur. And I'd like to take a pause here. And I hope as I'm talking through my process, you're also reflecting on your new projects and your new initiatives, your new OKRs your new KPIs that maybe you're getting quarter after quarter, because a huge part of setting expectations that tends to get lost is the when when are you going to do it? Where is the time to do it? Where in your schedule? Can you put this in? When can this happen within the year? And so when I was thinking about doing this project related to branding and messaging old Akua and if you've ever worked with me or you've had a conversation with me, you know, when I talk about sort of the different narratives of stories, I tend to tell myself one of the ways in which I sort of summarise or generalise one pattern of thinking that I tend to have is sort of old Akua or what I like to describe as practical patty and practical Patty can be very helpful in some situations. You know practical Patty keeps me grounded and practical. Patti also sometimes comes out when she's saying things like or some of the thoughts that come to my mind are things like I need to be practical, right I must overwork I must do extra work I must power through right so practical Patti would say things like keep up your normal work right your normal pace of work that you get paid for and add this you can do them both practical Patti also might say you know keep up your normal pace and fit this in. So work earlier. work later, right? Practical, Patti might also say you can't afford to stop working, right? So that's in your business on the things that actually bring you money, right? You can't afford to stop working and work on your business. So working on my business in this case, once again, that's the positioning. That's the messaging that's updating the website. Those are all things that hopefully in the long run will get me more business but in the short term, maybe won't. Right. So it's about trying to balance those two things. And so practical, Patti would say, No, no, no, no, no. Must do more ad. Right. On the flip side, abundant Aqua right, also known as a Korea that questions and is curious about some of her initial thoughts and expectations. So abundant Aqua goes, Wait, why? But why? Or is that like to say sometimes, is it by force? So abundant? Aqua checks her numbers? So that's me looking at, you know, how much I've made this year? What is my business plan? How far am I from hitting my goals, so she checks her numbers, right, and then she checks and blocks her calendar for when she thinks she can actually fit this in. And as luck would have it, a few additional things that she thought she would need to do. While she had actually scheduled the time to do the branding, and messaging and all these elements, those few things ended up being cancelled. So abundant Aqua, and this is the side I obviously ended up you know, leaning towards rather than working long hours, which would probably have led to terrible work, right bitterness, resentfulness. And because I'm using a lot of external support to help me get these pieces done, because I'm not an expert in it, not having the time to get them the information and data they need. Right, this could have also led to burnout. So abundant Aqua reflected on the impact these initiatives could have in the long run, and she made the time. So I blocked my calendar, I truly blocked my calendar, and once again, started to create the space to break down and think about how to implement these projects, selected the experts that would help me with these projects and move them along, and also helped to hold me accountable, and also decided to implement the projects during a time of the year that was slow. And by slow and this is gonna look different for everyone. But by slow what that means is, for me, and what I do this time of year, so this summer, the summer months, is when a lot of potential clients are most likely to take breaks or go on vacation anyway. So with telling this story, walking through this case study, I hope one of the things that maybe is coming to mind is that setting expectations is not the same as executing them, and many times as ambitious and high achieving leaders. And I definitely put myself in that bucket, we are unrealistic. So for example, we think that we can add these new tasks and projects to our existing schedule when our existing schedule is already full. And then we get really upset at ourselves, we're not able to fit in these additional OKRs is additional, you know, special quarterly projects. But the reality is that we didn't create time for them, we did not set ourselves up for success, we did not set our team up for success by simply just adding without thinking about what we would take away. So we are way too ambitious. Because we haven't deleted, we haven't removed we haven't delayed other projects and initiatives that would create space for these new projects. And sometimes we don't do a good job of breaking down the projects into achievable chunks that actually can be completed and checked off. And so we become demotivated, because we haven't done that part of the work related to expectation setting. And last but not least, sometimes we don't get the right support to complete these new projects. So for example, if there's something new that you're doing on or in your business for your department, maybe your team doesn't have the capacity. So maybe there's somebody else that you need to reach out to within your business within your organisation or someone external that you might need to bring in to help you be more efficient and effective to get whatever needs to get done. Though these pieces are in really important. I think the most important thing that we don't take the time to do is we don't take the time to be strategic. We don't stop to reflect on the ROI, the return on investments, the impact of these projects and initiatives. We don't take the time to reflect on whether or not these projects that we hopefully are breaking down into tasks relate back to our bigger goals relate back to our overall strategy relate back to our five year 10 year plans. We need to always ask ourselves as leaders whether we have the capacity, capability and clarity to break down these plans. projects these initiatives into small steps. So the key question you should be asking yourself before attempting to implement or execute on an expectation on an OKR on a goal on a vision, whatever you call it, is, why are we? Or why am I even doing this? And if you cannot answer this question, you might want to rethink, reflect or push back. And another thing to keep in mind in relation to my little case study that I just shared. And this is actually what we're going to cover in our next podcast episode is that there are three things we tend to forget, as we set and communicate expectations. The first is the when or the timing, and that includes when to check in on our progress. The second is the who is responsible? And what level of influence and power do they have? In my case, I am fully responsible, and I'm the one also implementing for the most part, but I'm leveraging external service providers with expertise. So this is gonna look very different in the workplace. And number three, what is your definition of success? Or what is your organization's definition of success, I'm really excited about diving a little bit deeper into this particular component of an expectation because it can be defined by an outcome or the process. So the how another element might also include whether or not it's about inputs or outputs. So these three elements are things we're going to be diving a little bit deeper into next time. But if there's anything that you take away from this conversation, I hope that you take away that you should always be asking why. And encourage your team to also ask why. As always, thank you so much for taking the time to listen, stay safe, and stay safe. Thank you so much for listening to this week's episode, please share this episode with someone who can benefit from its contents. If you found this episode helpful, I want to ask you to leave a review. This makes it easier for other people to find my podcast and also allows me to bring on even bigger guests, and even more fascinating stories. Thank you so much for listening again. Stay safe and stay sane


There are no comments yet. Be the first one to leave a comment!

Leave a comment


 Untitled design (7)  Untitled design (8)  Untitled design (1)



               CASE STUDIES

               PEOPLE ROUNDTABLE


Leaders aren't born; they're made.

This 5-minute assessment will help you understand what leadership stage you're currently in so you can determine your next steps.


© Copyright 2023, Akua Nyame-Mensah | Terms & Conditions  | Website by Rachelle Deem