Leadership Goals: How To Choose The Right Ones

Leadership goals provide guidance for you and your team on where to focus, how to identify a small number of vital outcomes you expect to produce, and how to concentrate efforts to achieve the best results.

How can you support you and your team with goal setting?  How do you choose from the myriad of possible activities to take on? How do you avoid the trap of taking on more than is reasonable to accomplish?

Harvard Business Review suggests that strategic direction is a key source for goal selection. We also recognize that an active organization creates opportunities for goal creation through its internal processes, outcomes and personal performance.

Author, Dick Grote offers the following:

Strategic Leadership Goals

Your Company Strategy

This is the first place to look for ideas. Individual goals should support the organization’s strategy. That’s one of the key reasons you set goals: to help the company achieve its objectives.

Division/Department Plans and Strategies

Ideally, your department strategy is completely aligned with the organization’s strategy and breaks the larger strategic goals down into responsibilities for each division. Ask what your team can do to directly contribute to your division’s goals.

Other Resources for Leadership Goals

Comments & Suggestions from Previous Performance Reviews

What did you tell your team in their last performance review? What specific areas did you draw attention to? Did you note areas that would be of growing importance in the near future?

Organizational Problems and Opportunities

Every employee can probably see areas where she can make improvements—where the organization or department can be more effective. Encourage your team members to talk to colleagues, customers, and senior leaders about how to improve processes, products, or services.

Personal Development and Interests

What skills does your team member want to develop? What experiences does she want to gain? The more passionate she feels about the goals, the easier it will be for her to achieve them.

Key Job Responsibilities

Key job responsibilities are the small number of major responsibilities—as opposed to the day-to-day tasks and chores—of a job. While these job responsibilities aren’t goals themselves, they are inspiration for larger opportunities that an individual could accomplish within her job.

Tips For Simple Leadership Goals

  1. Keep it short - The list of goals should be five or six at most. I suggest starting with a list of 3 key goals to assist in the development of the discipline required for goal achievement. They are the most fundamental and clear statements of the essential responsibilities of the task at hand.
  2. Keep them succinct - Don’t create elaborate descriptions of activities or the conditions under which the goal is completed. Goal statements should be barely more than a verb and a noun.
  3. Keep them discrete - Key job responsibilities shouldn’t overlap.
  4. Focus on outcomes - Don’t include references to the quality, frequency, or importance of performance. The salesperson’s list, for example, doesn’t specify how much new business she is expected to generate, the volume of sales, or the quality of leads. Focus entirely on outcomes, not on how you will achieve those outcomes.

Reference: ‘HBR Tools Goal Setting’; Dick Grote. Harvard Business School Publishing, 2016.

Until next time, Choose To Lead!