Kevin Snyder

Leadership is…

action, not position.
transformation, not a transaction.
influence, not management.
a verb, not a noun.

Whether I am speaking to student audiences or corporate organizations, the challenges and frustrations I hear leaders talk about have common threads. The seasoned executive and department manager are very likely dealing with many of the same issues as the student leader.

“Others just don’t seem to care as much.”
“If only people did what they said they’d do!”
“Why can’t we get more people involved?”
“20% of us are doing 80% of the work!”
etc., etc.

The good news is there are solutions to whatever your frustrations might be. Of course, circumstances are unique for each of us, but leadership principles are universal and span across an age and industry. As long as a leader recognizes the specific changes they desire and are needed, there are ways to make that reality come to life. That’s what effective leaders do. They have a reality check to assess and recognize where they are and then they work with others to get where he/she/they want to be. Where they want to be is a clear vision that they communicate and hold themselves accountable to work toward.

Spoiler Alert! This one article won’t solve all the world’s problems, but it can help us get started. I’ll be diving deeper into what I believe is the most important concept that will help you tackle and work through any challenge you are currently facing. Whether you want to improve your organization, a relationship, or yourself, apply this one principle to begin the journey.

“Remember, it’s not what you know, it’s what you apply.”

Important: Even before the journey begins, leaders know getting to their destination will have its detours, speed bumps, and even unanticipated construction zones. But effective leaders know they will never reach their destination if they take the nearest exit. Leaders finish despite adversity and setbacks. That’s why they are leaders. When other people quit, they don’t. They know their struggles develop their strength. They know setbacks are a setup for an opportunity.

Most of what I’ve learned about effective leadership over the past 20 years hasn’t come from books. In fact, much of what I’ve read about leadership centers around misconceptions. That’s why, in real life, leadership is so tough. Leadership isn’t always fun. Leadership isn’t about what we want to do, rather, it’s about what we ought to do. This is why most people who think they are good at leadership, unfortunately, aren’t. Most people don’t realize what leadership is about until they step into it – literally. Let’s change those misconceptions… so keep reading.

If you’re like me, I learn by doing – not reading. Most of my leadership discoveries have come from my experience speaking to over 500,000 people across 1,150 organizations in all 50 states and numerous countries. I’ve written a few books and been honored to do my own TEDx talk. Through my travels, observations, research, and discussions with people all over the world, I’m more clear than ever before about how an extraordinary leader can inspire and lead differently, and more effectively. These personal experiences have helped me discover that there’s one concept that will melt away the misconceptions about leadership. It seems simple in concept, but I assure you that it’s profound in application. Here it is:

Extraordinary leaders don’t set goals. They set expectations.

That’s correct. Extraordinary leaders don’t set goals. Instead, extraordinary leaders create a vision of expectation for themselves and others.

Goals are passive aggressive. Goals are a statement of what most people “hope” will happen. The majority of time when someone, or an organization, sets a goal, they like the sound of it. They even believe in it during the moment, but they don’t really understand what a goal requires legs, a body, a heart and even heartache. A goal also needs to be nourished and curated for months, if not years. That’s the reason why six months later 85% of most goals are either forgotten about or never achieved. New Year’s resolutions function the same way.

On the other hand, extraordinary leaders create a vision of expectation. Think about the people who have changed the world, created remarkable inventions and inspired others to greatness. Think of extraordinary athletes, famous authors and advocates for a cause.

Expecting what you desire is the first step toward obtaining it.

You see, when you have an authentic vision for something. It’s very clear in your mind. It’s as if you’ve already achieved it and you expect it to manifest it in your life. But you also know you’ve got to work toward it and never, ever, ever quit. Success should be more about making progress and being happy along the way. How often have you achieved something and then you look around asking, “Now what?”

A few years ago, I was sharing this leadership perspective with a group of fraternity and sorority student leaders during a Greek Week event. Apparently, word spread after my speech and I was asked to share my “idea” at a TEDX event. If you’re like me and you’d rather watch a TED talk than read about it, simply click here to watch. You won’t hurt my feelings. Plus, you’ll get to watch my Price is Right video when I shake Bob Barker’s hand and live my dream of being on the show. That was my vision and expectation years ago.

Here’s the bottom line… I want you to just realize that goals are phrases that look really good on a piece of paper. It’s okay to have them, and you should. Perhaps they can even motivate you for a short period of time, but they’ll soon fade out. A piece of paper with numbers and bullet points isn’t motivating. That document isn’t going to inspire anyone. What’s motivating is knowing that you’re leading, and following others at times, toward achieving a vision. You and your team literally expect that the vision will come to life and you talk about it often. It’s also expected that everyone will work toward it. It’s expected that others will have a role to play so they feel invested in helping obtain it. Make sense?

Instead of making a goal for yourself and your organizations, create a vision of expectation. Perhaps take it to the next level and create a vision board. What is it that will really inspire, ignite and empower others? That’s your vision of expectation! Share that instead of a goal document. Then work backwards. You’ll be amazed at the difference. If you’d like to learn more about how to make a vision board, or how to facilitate this with organizations, contact me. I also have a chapter in my book dedicated to this visioning process and you can get a free copy.

Download your free copy of my book, Think Differently to Achieve Success, by simply visiting my website: Enter your email and you’ll receive a message to automatically download my book. Over 25,000 copies have been delivered and I hope you’re next.

Kevin Snyder

I also have a leadership app you can download for free on your phone or iPad. Simply visit your app store and search for KevinCSnyder.

In closing, remember this – extraordinary leaders do not accept “no” for an answer. Instead, they only hear “not yet” or “not this way.” Due to their clear vision, they learn from each mistake and obstacle instead of giving up or believing that someone else is in charge of their destiny. Like a seed, they persist until circumstances become favorable and then grow through the concrete.

Many times in life, and for no other reason, you will be successful because others will quit, you will not. The clarity of your vision alone will dictate your success. Extraordinary leaders don’t set goals. They set expectations.

To read more leadership blog articles by Kevin Snyder, click the titles below:

The Common Denominator of Success
How to Bounce Back from Failure
The Jim Carrey Graduation Speech
The Power of Perspective


Learn more about keynote speaker Dr. Kevin Snyder and his story: