“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of being.”- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I’ve heard a variation of this theme three times this week. I regard it as a “sign” that I should share.

Goethe’s idea is that people tend to rise to how you expect them to perform.

My first reminder of this theme came from educator Vanessa Siddle Walker. She spoke of the appropriate mindset a teacher must have to help students achieve their full potential. She suggested that teachers who “want from their students the same thing they want from their own children” are more likely to help those students be the best they can be.

Parents have high expectations and hopes for their children. When she made that observation, I realized immediately what she was suggesting. Teachers who raise their level of caring get better results.

I read another story about how adjusted expectations affect results. Teachers were given two groups of students to teach. One group was classified with a high IQ. The second was classified with an average IQ.

You know the story: The high IQ class performed better than the moderate one.

One problem: The kids were the same in each class. The teachers taught the “high IQ” group with the expectation they would do better, and they did. A teacher’s expectations matter.

These three examples should challenge your approach to leadership. What do you think about the teams you lead?

Underachievers? Don’t know how to work? Likely to quit? Entitled? Not willing to work hard?

I hear these comments about the new generation. While there is undoubtedly some truth in these thoughts, it occurred to me that treating our new colleagues as if those attitudes are so, is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Aim higher. Expectations and ambitions are factors in attainment.