The Art of Managing Expectations


Positive Leadership in Project Management


By Frank Saladis, PMP, PMI Fellow

New York, NY, USA



I have been writing articles about “Positive Leadership in Project Management” for several years. The reason for choosing this particular title as the main theme for each article is directly connected to my belief that project managers, when assigned to a project, are assuming a position of leadership regardless of project size. A positive, motivational, and inspiring attitude is essential for personal success and the success of the team and the project. Leadership is about creating change, taking risks, setting an example, helping others to succeed, and having the courage to keep trying when previous attempts did not work. Leadership is about filling people with a sense of confidence, pride, and determination to achieve goals. It is also about preparing people to be resilient during difficult times, taking the edge off in times of great stress, and providing followers with a sense of purpose and a belief that they can succeed in reaching their goals. Leaders help others define success and provide guidance and mentorship to improve the probably of a successful outcome. Success is, in part, achieved when a set of goals and objectives have been clearly stated and the team understands and strives to meet those goals

Leadership, if you really think about it, begins with the development of a set of clear expectations. Unfortunately, in many cases, expectations are set very informally and are not clearly articulated. Sometimes they are set in a very aggressive manner and can be viewed as dictatorial and overbearing. When a new leader is assigned to a position, it is very common to either experience or observe some type of dialog among employees, and sometimes among other managers, about the incoming leader and what to expect. Much of this dialog is based on hearsay, rumors and unsubstantiated information. Assumptions are formed, judgments are made and plans for dealing with the new leader are often created before the leader’s position actually becomes official or the new leader has communicated his or her plans.  These assumptions may lead to an uncomfortable environment for communication and could cause some serious issues in the areas of morale and productivity.  The newly assigned leader, upon some observation of the organization he or she is joining, may begin to set some expectations regarding organizational or specific individual performance without actually observing behaviors and performance or conducting any formal discussions with other leaders or employees. This lack of dialog, open communication and setting of “spontaneous expectations” may lead to a serious breakdown in many performance areas and create conflict that could have been avoided.

Truly effective leaders understand that setting expectations intentionally is one of the key factors associated with organizational success. By “intentionally” I mean the leader schedules a specific session with an individual or a team of representatives from a business entity to discuss issues, concerns, visions, ideas, and ultimately a set of expectations. It is also very important to understand that expectations are different from goals and objectives.


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Editor’s note: This article is one in a series on Positive Leadership in Project Management by Frank Saladis, PMP, PMI Fellow, popular speaker and author of books on leadership in project management published by Wiley and IIL in the United States. Frank is widely known as the originator of the International Project Management Day, the annual celebrations and educational events conducted each November by PMI members, chapters and organizations around the world.

How to cite this paper: Saladis, F. (2019). The Art of Managing Expectations: Positive Leadership in Project Management, series article. PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue X, November. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/pmwj87-Nov2019-Saladis-the-art-of-managing-expectations.pdf



About the Author

Frank P. Saladis

New York, USA




Frank P. Saladis, PMP, PMI Fellow is a Consultant and Instructor / Facilitator within the project management profession and has over 35 years of experience in the IT, Telecom Installation and IT Project Management training environment. He is a senior consultant and trainer for the International Institute For Learning Inc. and has been involved in the development of several project management learning programs. Mr. Saladis has held the position of Project Manager for AT&T Business Communications Systems, National Project Manager for AT&T Solutions Information Technology Services and was a member of Cisco Systems Professional Services Project Management Advocacy Organization. His responsibilities included the development of Project Management Offices (PMO) and the development of internal training programs addressing project management skills and techniques.

He is a Project Management Professional and has been a featured presenter at the Project Management Institute ® Annual Symposiums, Project World, PMI World Congress, CMMA, and many PMI Chapter professional development programs. He is a past president of the PMI New York City Chapter and a Past-President of the PMI ® Assembly of Chapter Presidents. Mr. Saladis is a Co-Publisher of the internationally distributed newsletter for allPM.com, a project management information portal, and a contributor to the allPM.com project management website.

Mr. Saladis is the originator of International Project Management Day and has written numerous leadership and project management related articles. Mr. Saladis is also the author of the Project Management Workbook and PMP ® / CAPM ® Exam Study Guide that supplements Dr. Harold Kerzner’s textbook – Project Management, A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling and Controlling?, 9th Edition published by John Wiley & Sons and the author of Positive Leadership in Project Management, published by IIL Publishing. He is a member of the International Executive Guild and the NRCC Business Advisory Council. He has also held the position of Vice President of Education for the Global Communications Technology Specific Interest Group of PMI ® and holds a Master’s Certificate in Commercial Project Management from the George Washington University. Mr. Saladis received the prestigious Lynn Stuckenbrook Person of the Year Award from the Project management Institute in 2006 for his contributions to the organization and to the practice of project management.  He can be contacted at saladispmp@msn.com

To view other works by Frank Saladis, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/frank-p-saladis/