S:0544 Distinction: Require vs. Expect

(Distinctions are subtleties of language that, when gotten, cause a shift in a belief, behavior, value or attitude.)


In business you expect certain things to happen and it’s useful to communicate those expectations to others, particularly if they are expectations you have of people who work for you. Clearly telling them what you expect of them is a part of your management and leadership. However, expectations, by their nature, have some flexibility in them.

When you have a situation which does not allow for that flexibility you may want to escalate to the level of requiring.

When you expect, you define a target to aim for. When you require, you define a minimum level of standard. For instance, (in the USA) it is a requirement to drive on the right side of the road. If you only expect it, you’re in trouble! So it can be in your business; some actions can be expected, others are required.

Note: Watch your tone when you communicate expectations and requirements. Both are best delivered in a charge-neutral manner, neither lecturing, nor pleading. Simply direct.


Coaching Point: Where have your expectations not been met and you know you now need to require a certain level of performance?


Copyright 2006 Steve Straus. All rights reserved.