JKWhitehead & Associates

Intentions and Expectations

Intentions and Expectations

Leadership is… making clear what are the Intentions and Expectations.

expectations sign postsA large percentage of my career has been in sales management and leadership, where I have been responsible for 30 or more direct reports at a time. Sales management, at its core, is about training and developing sales people to be the best they can be. It is a lot to do with showing and telling (at least initially), and then coaching as the individual salesperson becomes integrated into their role.

There have also been times when I’ve had to have a difficult conversation with an individual. Most of the time this had to do with performance issues when the salesperson was not meeting their expected targets. If you have spent any time in a sales environment you will know exactly what I am talking about. It was these experiences that gave me a skill and language that I continue to use in my coaching practice. Two words have become central in my coaching: Intention and Expectations.

In the context of coaching it is when working with a client who, in any role, needs to have any interaction with others. My coaching dialogue will lead the client to consider how they are communicating with others. Are they being clear about what they are trying to communicate and are they making sure that the other person is receiving the information in a way that they understand what is being communicated?

The first step is to be very clear about your intention. You need to clearly communicate this to the other – what is the intention of this discussion or meeting? State that right up front. This can alleviate misunderstandings right up front. It can also set the tone that is needed for the discussion. For example, going back to my sales management days, if the discussion was going to be about performance and the other person knew that, chances are they might be worried about what might be coming. It definitely helped to state right up front that this’s day conversation was about how to improve their performance and not about terminating their contract. If, on the other hand, this was to be a termination notice, then that would be stated right up front as the purpose of the meeting. Again, make clear the intention of the meeting.

The second step is expectations. What are your expectations for the discussion or meeting? Not only that, what expectations do you want the other person to take away at the end? Again, initially you need to be very clear about these. If you are not clear about them yourself, how can you expect the other person to understand them? As with intentions, it is best to position these right up front, right after you have declared your intention for the meeting. Using my example from above, the expectation might be that by the end of the conversation the other person will understand their sales targets and have a plan for reaching them, with clear regular reporting on how it is going. Again this should be stated up front, right after the statement about the meeting’s intention.

This process goes beyond set meetings though, and can be a template for all of a leader’s interactions. As a coach I assist my clients in becoming clearer about their own goals, and understanding their own intentions and expectations. Without this knowledge they themselves are most likely floundering and not providing the leadership they want or need to demonstrate.


This is the seventh on a series specifically exploring what leadership is and how we can not only understand leadership but how to implement it

Leadership series directory:

Leadership is…. Three Theories of Leadership
Directing, Coaching, Supporting & Delegating Are What?
Who Are K&P and What Is TLC?
Servant Leadership is….
Leadership Style and its Impact
Listening – Leaderships Common Denominator



John Whitehead, coaches’ individuals and organizations in becoming more effective by helping them improve their interpersonal communications, emotional intelligence and resiliency.

*******Are you wondering if having a Leadership/Personal Development Coach is right for you? Contact John for a complimentary, exploratory coaching session at [email protected] ********

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