General Business

Lessons in Leadership: Leadership Goals

On this edition of Lessons in Leadership, Steve Adubato and Mary Gamba are joined by Evan Drellich, Author, Winning Fixes Everything: How Baseball’s Brightest Minds Created Sports’ Biggest Mess, about the Houston Astros cheating scandal and the importance of leaders owning their mistakes. Then, Steve and Mary talk with Shané Harris, VP, Social Responsibility, President, The Prudential Foundation, about philanthropy and leadership.

People often confuse being busy with being productive. In my leadership coaching, I remind my clients to focus on “impact over activity,” meaning, we can easily get caught up in our to-do lists and action items for the day that we don’t press pause to look at the impact of our efforts.

One of the reasons professionals spin their wheels without moving forward is that they don’t set realistic and relevant goals. People engage in a series of activities that cause them to work long hours, but these activities don’t always have the required impact. For example, an activity may be, “meet with my staff once a week.” While weekly meetings may be necessary and useful, if you don’t clearly define specific goals and what you want the impact of these weekly meetings to be, we can often find ourselves meeting just for the sake of saying we had a meeting.

With this in mind, consider some ground rules when establishing goals for yourself and your team so that your efforts will have a significant impact on your success and bottom line:

  • Make sure you believe in your goal. Don’t just go on “auto-pilot” or go through the motions. If you don’t buy into the goal, how can you communicate it to your team members with conviction? How can you have the passion and persistence necessary to get through the tough times and obstacles that are sure to come?
  • Be clear and concise when stating your goal. Be straightforward and communicate in everyday English, not jargon-filled, flowery terminology with lots of acronyms. People are not impressed with wordy communication and instead will appreciate you getting right to the point with language they can understand and relate to.
  • Limit the number of goals you set. Too often we create a laundry list of goals that could never realistically be accomplished. We incorrectly believe that the more we have on the list the more productive we will be. We confuse quantity over quality. Setting the bar high is one thing, engaging in fantasy is another. The more realistic the goal, the greater the odds of achieving it.
  • Connect your goal to the larger organizational strategic plan. Let team members know why they are working toward this goal and how it connects to the bigger picture plans for them and the company. And be sure to communicate when and how performance directly connected to a particular goal will be reviewed and that new goals will be established accordingly.
  • Be specific in the results you seek and your expected time frame. Six months or a year from now, how close will you be to meeting your goal? Make sure progress can be measured by credible qualitative and quantitative performance standards, using surveys, statistics, and other feedback mechanisms.
  • Be firm yet flexible. Yes, you are committed to achieving the goal, but you must adapt to circumstances and changes and possibly revise original goals. As a leader, it is a sign of strength to acknowledge that you need to pivot or go in another direction entirely if the desired results are not being achieved.
  • Be action-oriented in the goals you set using verbs that describe what you seek to accomplish. For example, “In the next 30 days, our marketing team will create and implement an ad campaign that will bring in $50,000 in new revenue over the next 6-months.” Or, “By the end of this quarter, we will develop and implement a quality customer service initiative that improves customer satisfaction scores by 10 percent.” The key is to clearly communicate your goals on a consistent and specific basis.
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