How high expectations improves your ability to drive successful sustained transformation


One of my all-time favorite movies is “Remember the Titans.” The movie is based on the true story of African-American coach Herman Boone, portrayed by Denzel Washington, and his attempt to integrate the T. C. Williams High School football team in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1971. I watched it again recently and continue to be impressed with the transformational leadership of Coach Boone.

Among other things, he demonstrated high expectations of his team:

  • He forced team members to put aside their differences.
  • He created an environment where high performance was rewarded.
  • He led the team to victory.

Movies often take literary license to make a point. This one is no exception. But the instruction we receive is significant and cannot be discounted.

In the late 1980’s while working on my MBA, I enrolled in a marketing course taught by Professor Bruce Wrenn. I don’t remember most of my professor’s names – partly because it has been 30 years, but mostly because few other teachers I’ve ever had expected so much from his class.

  • We wrote a two-page paper a week sharing insight about a current marketing news topic.
  • We were responsible for a team project during the term that would result in a 30- page report out.
  • We developed a class project together to revitalize a local high-tech company by establishing a new strategy.

Some class members complained. I loved the work and the challenge. It was one of the best courses I enrolled in throughout my entire university career. I consider it also one of my most successful. Why?

  • I learned a great deal.
  • I still use some of the underlying principles of material we learned (sustained application).
  • That high-tech company? It’s still in business 30 years later because it, in part, adopted the strategy we developed. In this day where high-tech companies come and go, this says something (sustained application)!

Dr. Wrenn was a transformational leader. He knew his material, he interacted with us fairly, and he drove us to success.

Do you have high expectations?

  • Are you challenging your team to achieve high performance?
  • Are you providing the environment for them to succeed?
  • Are you achieving the most from your team?
  • Are the results sustained?

How do you measure up?

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,