Expert advice on Business Leadership and tips on becoming a more effective Leader.

Leadership Lesson: On Setting Great Expectations By Joe Tye

There is a scene early in J.R.R. Tolkien’s book The Hobbit that sets the stage for the entire story. Gandalf the wizard has agreed to help Thorin and his band of dwarves recover the treasure that was stolen from them by a fire-breathing dragon.

The dragon has hoarded the treasure deep in a cavern at the bottom of a mountain, and the dwarves need a burglar to sneak in to tell them where the dragon is so they can recover the treasure without being caught.

Gandalf introduces them to Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit. Now, hobbits are short and fat and they love nothing more than eating, drinking and sleeping. Thorin, the mighty king of the dwarves, looks down at the little hobbit and sniffs, “Why, he looks more like a grocer than a burglar.”

Gandalf replies that there’s more to Bilbo than meets the eye, that in fact there’s more to him than even he sees in himself.

The rest of the story is the story of little Bilbo Baggins striving to live up to the expectation created for him by Gandalf the wizard at the very start.

By story’s end, it is Bilbo who has become the real leader of the group.
Joe Tye is president of Paradox 21 Inc., which provides corporate training and culture change initiatives based on a proprietary curriculum of The Twelve Core Action Values of Personal Leadership Effectiveness. He is also the author of several books and audio programs on personal, career, and business success, and a popular motivational speaker. Visit

-Have you ever had anyone set greater expectations for you than you set for yourself originally? What kind of impact did it have on your performance? What would you like to share about the article above?

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