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Creating Your Leadership Goals

Last week we looked at how leadership doesn’t occur simply as a result of a new role. It takes work—for just ten weeks—when you focus. That work pays off. Knowing how to lead correctly means faster growth, greater engagement and retention, increased resiliency, and better decisions. Effective leadership comes from knowing where to begin: by establishing your personal mission (which we covered in last week’s blog). Once you know your mission, you are ready to crafting goals that flow out of that personal mission.


If you haven’t read last week’s blog on Clarifying Your Personal Mission, please do. Then come back here so you can begin to create goals that will help you fulfill that mission. This approach equally impacts both work and personal leadership.

A Word (or Two) About Goals

When I am working with leaders on goal setting, I often find a subtle, but strong, resistance to goal-setting. This resistance shows up in three distinct ways:

1. Avoid stating any goals at all. I hear, “I don’t do goals. I’m more spontaneous than that.” This is a misuse of spontaneity (which I happen to value greatly in the right applications, such as innovation.)

First of all, we all have goals, whether we are willing to admit it or not. If we are unwilling to state them, then we are probably afraid of the work it takes to reach them, or worse, not achieving them even if we do the work.

Secondly, if we don’t check them against our mission, those vague, unstated goals may take us off course.

2. Aiming too small. This is the most frequent resistance. If we aim small, we are sure to hit our goal. Hooray! However, we make very little headway on our personal mission. The error in this thinking is if we aim too high we are doomed to fail. In fact, goals themselves are simply setting a direction and a pace for us. We can learn, adapt and grow as we go. (And we can spontaneously adapt!)

3. Confusing our goals with something else. Our goals are exactly that—they are ours. Many leaders are understandably focused on the greater good, and confuse their goals with other people’s, thus taking on someone else’s goals as their own. This is usually a recipe for burnout and dissatisfaction. The other main confusion is between goals and tasks. Goals contain objectives and tasks. However, they are not the same thing. The generally accepted distinction between goals and tasks is this:

a. Goal: How much you intend to do and when to do it.

b. Tasks: What you need to do to get there.

What do you want to accomplish this month toward your personal mission?

Start by doing a mind dump. Make a list of whatever it is that keeps you up at night (or at least is always nagging at the back of your mind) - those situations or tasks that if changed or completed would make life more peaceful, fulfilling and even motivating.

● Is it a stack of un-filed but important papers on your desk?

● Unanswered email?

● The need to research and implement new technologies or refine your process?

● An unresolved or uncomfortable relationship issue that has the potential to reach a crisis?

For example, using the mission statement: “I want to use my skills and position to be a source of emotional, social, and financial good in this company,” ...

...a simple goal this month could be to have virtual coffee or lunch once a week with an employee you don’t know well, or believe needs improvement.

This one simple goal moves you toward fulfilling your mission. This would fall under being a source of emotional good - fostering a warm and supportive environment.

Plus, you’ll be amazed at what one good interaction can do for building a positive (even more productive) relationship!

Over the long haul, you’ll both benefit.

These planned activities might seem small, but they fit your mission with long-term payoffs when they’re put on the calendar and followed through.

Into Action:

First, restate your personal mission(s):

Choose no more than 3 goals for this month. Be as specific as possible, and work on those that fit into your mission statements.

Looking further ahead, what are a few goals you want to accomplish this quarter?

How about by the end of this year?

Next week we’ll look into those challenges, obstacles and roadblocks that can trip you up.

Need additional help setting goals that are in alignment with your mission? Set up a call to see if working together is the help you need.

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