From The Complete Leader Podcast Episode #65

Goal achievement is one of those tricky leadership skills to develop. Actually, around 60 to 70% of those involved in leadership are more people-oriented than task-oriented, making setting and achieving goals a lot more difficult for most. Even I don’t like it! But I depend on this core competency as a leader.

The truth is, goals are an important part of your leadership persona and reputation. And as your career grows and you take on more and more responsibilities, the magnitude and complexity of those goals just keeps growing—and this skill becomes essential.

When I started out as a leader, I had only a small sphere of influence. Most of my goal setting and achievement involved tasks I said I was going to do and that I had to hold myself accountable to accomplish. But as my opportunities and leadership grew, I had to set goals both for myself and for others. I had to guide them so we could all be successful. So, setting and achieving goals certainly became much more complex, and what I did 20, 30, or 40 years ago doesn’t work for me today. I have to keep reinventing, rediscovering, and developing new skills in goal achievement in order to keep pace with the new opportunities that come my way.

How do you grow your goal-setting and achievement skills?

There are four practical steps you can follow to begin growing your goal achievement skills.

Build habits to reach and support your goals. To establish a new habit you need to begin right away—procrastination only increases the odds that you will never build this habit. You should not allow exceptions around your new habit until it’s firmly entrenched in your routine.

Spend time thinking about and recording your goals, in all areas of life. Think about the goals you want to set both personally and professionally. Maybe you have wellness, financial, or family goals. Perhaps you want to develop your leadership skills for a promotion. Choose one area to focus on for the next 90 days, but only one. If you try to focus on more, it will increase the likelihood of failure.

Schedule goal reviews. Add review time to your calendar and stick to it. Use this time to reflect and analyze why something is or isn’t working—but don’t beat yourself up about the things that aren’t working. Focus on learning and finding the root problem of why it isn’t working.

Bring in reinforcements. Share your goals with trusted mentors or colleagues and ask them to check in on your progress. The more transparent you make your goals, the more your foster an environment of accountability with those who care about you and your success, the greater your internal strength to follow through.

How do I decide which goals to pursue—and stay focused?

When determining whether or not a goal is worth committing to, I like to ask myself a series of questions. Whenever you are looking to set a new goal, these can help you begin.

  1. What defines a good goal?
  2. Who will benefit from achieving this goal?
  3. What’s the payback?
  4. Is it worth your attention and commitment?
  5. Is it a big enough goal that it’s worth giving the one resource you can’t multiply—your time and energy?
  6. Is it connected to your mission or vision of where you’re going in the future?
  7. Does it align with your values and how you want to function as an individual, a team, or an organization?
  8. How is it going to help or hinder other goals and priorities you have?
  9. How is it going to create new opportunities in the future?
  10. Is this a goal that will open up another series of possibilities if you succeed? Or is it a dead-end goal?
  11. Will others be inspired and motivated to help you succeed?
  12. Who will you need help from?
  13. What new skills will you need to develop along the way to succeed?
  14. What obstacles do you think you’ll run into, and how will you overcome them?
  15. What milestones can you set along the way to evaluate your process?
  16. How will you measure results and success—both tangibly and intangibly?

One of the most common requests I get is to come in and motivate a team. Many don’t realize, however, that motivation is internal. Inspiration is external. It’s important that you have both a logical and an emotional reason for achieving your goal to activate this internal motivation within yourself. I’ve found that keeping a weekly goal review meeting has helped me focus, stay accountable, and re-ignite my motivation the most.

But the biggest a-ha moment I’ve had was in realizing the root cause of some long-standing goals that I hadn’t yet been able to accomplish—I was trying to do it all on my own. And I realized that I was never going to be successful until I had a team working on these goals together. Once I refocused these as team goals rather than individual goals, I had a 100% success rate and I’ve been able to achieve that key result each year since.

Download a fillable guide on How to Decide Which Goals to Pursue here.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.