To make a couple of confessions, I tend to be a perfectionist and I tend to believe I can do everything better than anyone else. And because of the way I’m wired, I’m always tempted to give a bunch of rules on how things should be done…complete with extensive quality standards and deadlines.
But over several years and countless errors, I’ve learned this simple truth:
Rules set a ceiling, expectations establish a floor.
When I give hard and fast rules that define the scope and boundaries of a particular project, I will almost always be disappointed. The end product will meet my demands, but just barely. The work will be done at the last minute and will be designed to simply satisfy my taste. Inevitably, they’ll miss the mark and I’ll be able to find fault with it.
However, when I give expectations, I open the door for creativity that will likely blow me away. I can share the goal of the project – what I hope it accomplishes – and then set my team free to dream and innovate within their gifting. The sky’s the limit!
It’s just a subtle difference in my approach but as it plays out through the process, it’s the difference between mediocre and exceptional:
When you control with rules, people are always trying to please you without being able to fully read your mind, which is completely impossible. But when you release people with accountability, they are free to dive into discovering the team’s absolute best, rather than your perceived best.
When you want to control with rules, choose to release with expectations instead. It’ll end up better for everyone.