Exceed Everyone's Expectations

“I’ve always admired the ability to bite off more than one can chew, and then chew it.”

William DeMille

Exceed the Expectations of Your Customers and Your Colleagues

As simple as under-promising and over-delivering is as a concept, we see glaring examples of ignorance of it each hour of the day. Of all the Leadership Principles, this one is the most straight forward. But it does require a little finesse.


Two extreme examples: the sand-bagger and the drama queen. Do not fall prey to either. Both can be governed, but a nickname will stick if you do not change your ways.


The sand-bagger does just enough work to meet the commitment, maybe a tiny bit more. It’s the minimalist attitude that is detrimental. The sand-bagger will feign difficulty and exertion while meeting a low commitment. The damage is to co-workers, and most will never realize it. Colleagues will toil harder for longer hours while the sand-bagger does a Sudoku. When he’s found, he’s toast. No credibility or trust was earned.


The drama queen suffers from a raft of problems, but for this character the problems are on steroids. Separating major and minor is something a good leader knows through training, experience, and instinct. The drama queen sees everything as major, and as a result cannot prioritize even though he will probably deliver the goods. The internal issue that is draining is that co-workers are constantly exposed to the raw nerves of the overly dramatic, and the distraction is not worth the value of the end product.


Both the sand-baggers and the drama queens are best handled using the direct approach, while consistently calling them out each and every time they slip into bad habits.


I have been coached that once the deadline has been established, and the standard of performance has been set, every effort to finish early with an enhanced product should be made, within reason. One boss told the crew that we should set a low standard and we would always exceed the expectation. Nonsense. As a professional, your standards of performance in everything should be above the norm, and only then will people keep coming to you for your advice, service, or work.

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