Aspiration vs. Expectation: What managers need to remember

February 4, 2016

Aspiration vs. Expectation: What managers need to remember

By Susanne Dalton Dupes In Communication, Corporate Culture with Comments Off on Aspiration vs. Expectation: What managers need to remember

A balance of aspiration and expectationJudith Glasner, author of Conversational Intelligence, talks about how differently people react to two words: “aspiration” and “expectation.”


“Expectation” has negative connotations attached to it, Glasner points out, in that it becomes a bar by which we succeed or fail, as in “You failed to meet my expectations.”  The word tends to be closely associated with performance reviews and feedback sessions, which can focus on giving correction.


But “aspiration” has positive connotations. What do you aspire to be? What are your aspirations about this job, this project, this event? “Aspiration” is a dreaming, hopeful word that encourages us to reach further. It allows us to “what if” and to think big.

In his book on Masterful Coaching, Robert Hargrove, writes that he encourages CEOs and executives to declare an “Impossible Future,” an aspirational statement that captures something they dream or imagine could set their organization or even themselves apart from the masses.

Imagine if you gave your team, your employees, the opportunity to aspire, to dream, to really go outside the box.  What could they imagine? What could they achieve?

Aspiration is the underpinning of innovation. Expectation is the underpinning of sameness. Which is your organization is set up to foster?

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