According to writer Brian Tracy, “If what you are doing is not moving you towards your goals, then it’s moving you away from your goals.” Setting goals is critical to setting leaders up for success, and failure to do so effectively has serious ramifications for your business.
One study found that moving beyond “do your best” goals across a range of tasks increased the value of output by nearly 20%:
“For example, imagine a software developer that makes $80,000 a year and has “do your best” goals. After setting challenging, specific goals, the company could expect the value of the increased productivity from that developer to be worth about $14,400. For a 30-person startup where the average salary is $80,000, that translates to about $432,000 a year in additional output.”
Setting annual goals isn’t just a good idea or a New Year’s tradition. It’s a foundational leadership skill we must prioritize to better equip ourselves and our teams. Here are four simple but powerful steps you can take to level up your goal-setting in 2024 and beyond.
Understanding and incorporating timelines into goal setting is critical for effective accountability and evaluation. It also helps people stay motivated and maintain momentum approaching deadlines and milestones. Here are some steps to take when finalizing a timeline for your business goals:
- Set an attainable deadline for the entire project or initiative.
- Break up the larger timeline into smaller ones with measurable benchmarks
- Communicate the details of this timeline to your team
- Integrate the timeline into your project management systems and software
- Refer to the timeline before making any adjustments to workflows
- Let the whole team know about any changes or adjustments
While deadlines can feel intimidating, striving to meet a goal can make us better all-around leaders.
“Efficiency is the hallmark of successful individuals and organizations. When you have a deadline, you are compelled to find more efficient ways of accomplishing tasks. You learn to prioritize, delegate, and eliminate distractions. In essence, timelines lead to the discovery of better and smarter ways to work.”
Along with being a powerful motivator, setting incremental goals avoids the issue of being overwhelmed by evaluating every part of your work at the first of the year. The sooner leaders are able to recognize the need to pivot, the more prepared we are for what comes next.
There’s a reason specificity is the first step of setting SMART goals. Specificity makes it far more likely your goals will be achieved. When you know what you’re aiming for, and in which direction to focus your efforts, you’re more likely to achieve measurable results for your team. A few criteria you can use to set more specific goals include:
- Who: Who is involved in this goal?
- What: What do I want to accomplish?
- Where: Where is this goal to be achieved?
- When: When do I want to achieve this goal?
- Why: Why do I want to achieve this goal?
Don’t be overly concerned about missing something by narrowing the focus of a goal. Detailed goals give you an opportunity to learn more about the strengths of your team and your businesses, along with pinpointing opportunities for growth.
For example, if your goal specified that you wanted to get 10% more leads by phone, online, and through events, but you only met your online sales goals, you’d have helpful starting points for setting goals related to networking events or phone sales.
Take a Holistic Approach.
Holistic leadership takes the whole person into account when making changes to workplace culture, processes, or plans. It “emphasizes the importance of balancing personal and professional growth, investing in oneself and others, and fostering a collaborative and supportive organizational culture. This approach recognizes that effective leadership requires more than just technical skills and expertise; it requires a deep understanding of oneself, others, and the organization as a whole”.
This mindset helps leaders set more attainable goals because they’re taking crucial concerns into account. Holistic leaders know that goals are more reachable when they:
- Don’t add an unreasonable number of tasks to existing workloads
- Don’t disrupt work-life balance for leaders or teams
- Are designed to improve employee satisfaction, performance, or well-being
- Don’t fall outside someone’s agreed-upon job responsibilities or scope of work
- Allow for clear feedback and evaluation
Make an Honest Self-Assessment.
It’s a hard truth, but leaders whose teams aren’t meeting their goals are probably not leading effectively. Conversely, leaders who understand that change starts at the top are much more likely to set goals that make a lasting difference for their organization and their teams. Self-assessment is a crucial part of effective leadership. Take it from Blanchard thought leader Britney Cole:
“When I think about personal effectiveness, I think, ‘How do I get the best out of myself? How can I be the most effective version of myself?’ For me, that begins with a deep understanding of self, knowing what my best is, and knowing where I want to go. . . From there, you can figure out where to put your energy and what skills you need.”
Leaders with high emotional intelligence set effective goals and are motivated to reach them. In turn, they’re more able to set reachable goals for their teams and actively contribute to moving their entire organization forward. Self-assessment is an essential way to start that process strong, especially when facilitated by leadership experts with a track record of success.
Ready to Elevate Your Leadership Game in 2024!
Remember, effective leadership begins with setting achievable goals and making a commitment to personal growth. Take charge of your success – prioritize timelines, be specific, embrace a holistic approach, and make an honest self-assessment.
Your journey to reaching your goals starts now. Schedule your call today to explore our tailored training solution – Setting Leadership Foundations – Leader Essentials, and revitalize your people and your organization. Lead with purpose, lead with intention, and lead towards success. Begin the transformation today!”