You may be surprised to hear that many leaders wrestle with how much pressure they should put on their employees to achieve…to push harder…to strive for more.  They do not know how to determine when enough is enough.  It is not an easy concept to sort out.  Here are some good starting points.

As a leader you MUST require your employees to live up to your standards.  Erring on the side of softness earns you neither success nor respect.

You absolutely should expect your team to perform at the same level as yourself?  As a leader you MUST require your employees to live up to your standards.  Otherwise:

    • – they will not achieve the results you want;
    • – you will be frustrated with the results you achieve; and,
    • – your leadership will be seen as weak.


How hard is hard enough?  That is a more difficult question to answer, and a difficult balance to maintain.  Here are some tips for sorting through that question.

  • Ask yourself the reasonableness question…Is what I am asking reasonable?  Am I asking my team to work harder than I do?  If you have any doubt, ask a few trusted colleagues the same question…people you can trust to give you the straight story.  I generally find that my EA is one of my best sources for this type of information.
  • Keep your eyes open for signs of stress in the organization…increased rates of sickness and high turnover are good indicators that something is wrong.  Establish a few key metrics you can follow as an indicator of these issues.
  • Similarly, deteriorating interpersonal dynamics amongst your employees, such as rudeness and arguments, are signs of stress and overload.
  • Conduct regular focus group discussions to get a sense of how your team feels.  Have lower level supervisors conduct some of these.  People tend to speak more freely to lower level supervisors than to senior ones, and it is a good developmental experience for those supervisors.

There will certainly be individuals that are not willing to work as hard as you.  In that case, it is better that you both know and they find something more suited to their style.

However, my experience has been that most leaders do not push their people enough.  They err on the side of softness.  They feel that employee’s complaining is a bad thing and reflects poorly on their leadership and leads to bad results. Not so!  That approach earns you neither success nor respect.  Some degree of stress, pressure and urgency is a good thing.

The reality is that some people will complain about everything…to see what they can get from you.  It is like a negotiation.  They will complain as long as they see they are getting something out of it.

Stand your ground…expect performance…require it!