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Expecations for Leaders & The Pygmalion Effect

May 7, 2011 — 1 Comment

It’s recruit and train season for ministry workers.  And as we are prayerfully seeking those that God has called to serve, we need to be evaluating the expectations that we’re placing on our leaders.

The trend has been to lower expectations and commitment levels to attract more volunteers.  I’ve definitely done it, and I’m sure you’ve at least thought about it doing it.  Take it from my experience, IT DOES NOT WORK!

Lowering the expectations will lower the quality AND the quantity of volunteers.

Don’t believe me?  Have you heard of the Pygmalion Effect?

The Pygmalion Effect is based on research of Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson.  The Pygmalion Effect says, in short, that if you believe someone is capable of high performance, then that person will perform highly.  The reverse is also true.  If you believe that someone is incapable of high performance, then in subtle ways you encourage & facilitate the lower performance. The conclusion of research by Rosenthal and Jacobson found that simply believing in the individual’s potential could raise performance. 

The reality is that it’s not just “belief” in potential, but the development of that potential.  If we believe someone has potential, then we spend more time with them and focus more on their development.  If we think that person is incapable of meeting our expectations, then we tend to compromise and lower our expectations to a mediocre level.

Tom Shefchunas had a great line in his breakout at Orange ’11.  He said over and over, “You can’t drive people to do something but the culture can.”  What I took from that statement was that we create a culture of excellence through our expectations.  If we expect great things, then we create an opportunity for our volunteers to rise to that level.   If we celebrate the wins in our ministry and communicate a strategic vision, we can ask great things of our leaders.  And research has proven that if we will ask more from them, we be pleased with the outcome.

This one is hard for me because it’s just hard to ask for more from someone who is “working for free.”  But I when I consider the eternal outcomes that are at stake, I realize that we must call our leaders to do whatever it takes to introduce kids to the Savior.

What are you doing to “raise the expectations” of your leaders?

Are there certain requirements or personal development things that you require of leaders?  (required readings, training events, mentoring, etc?)


One response to Expecations for Leaders & The Pygmalion Effect

  1. Great post…I would recommend reading “Drive” by Dan Pink…. You will be pleasantly surprised at what it takes to motivate others. ๐Ÿ™‚

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