A New Perspective on Goal Setting for Organizational Leaders

A New Perspective on Goal Setting for Organizational Leaders

Six Steps to Drive Results and Support Your Employees’ Growth

As organizational leaders, it’s easy to overthink, overcomplicate, or even oversimplify our goals. If the task gets too daunting, sometimes we may decide not to set any goals at all. What happens if I don’t reach my milestones? What if my results turn out differently than planned? If you find yourself doubting the goal setting process altogether, I am here to share six steps that can help leaders not only drive results, but also support their employees’ growth and development.

1. First, get focused.

“Always remember, your focus determines your reality.” – George Lucas

Setting multiple goals almost guarantees they will not all be met. Executives in particular, who are typically strategic, big thinkers and able to tackle large initiatives, are well-suited to focus on a small set of big goals that will make the largest impact to their organization.

Focus on a Wildly Important Goal (WIG)

A WIG is a high-impact goal that is so consequential that not achieving it makes all other achievements inconsequential. However, it shouldn’t just be “big” or “expensive” or “visible” – although they may end up being any or all of those things.

Specifically, every WIG should be:

  • The best of the best. You will have to say no to good ideas. There will always be more good ideas than the capacity to execute.
  • Limited in number. No team should set / focus on more than 2 WIG’s at the same time
  • Efficient. When creating a WIG, DON’T ASK, “What are all the things I must do to win this war?” • DO ASK, “What are the fewest battles necessary to win this war?”

2. Next, Get SMART.

Once you’ve identified your WIGs, give each one a reality check. One way to do this is by using the SMART goals checklist.

  • Is the goal Specific?
  • Is it Measurable?
  • Is it Attainable?
  • Is it Relevant?
  • Is it Time bound?

In addition, ask yourself:

  • Is it actionable? Does it begin with a verb like “improve” or “increase”? Avoid vague language when creating your goals.
  • Who owns the results? To whom will I be accountable for my results?

3. Execute an action plan.

Great teams invest their best efforts in the few activities that have the most impact on achieving their WIGs. These are called “lead measures.” Achieving your goal is like trying to move a giant rock. Effort alone isn’t enough. Lead measures act like a lever making it possible to move that rock.

  • Create a list of your lead measures.
  • Successful lead measures are focused on ideas that will drive results.
  • Rank lead measures by impact: narrow the focus to a few lead measures. Too many lead measures will dissipate the pressure. A lever must move a lot to move the rock.
  • Track your list of lead measures and hold each other accountable for executing each one.

4. Build in engagement.

Taking a WIG across the finish line takes teamwork, and the team won’t play at their best unless they are emotionally engaged. Help your team invest in a goal by creating a compelling scoreboard. People play differently when they’re keeping score. If you’re not keeping score, you’re just practicing.

5. Create a cadence of accountability.

To help hold your team accountable, hold weekly WIG sessions. A WIG session has a singular purpose: To refocus the team on the WIG despite the daily whirlwind. WIG sessions should include:

  • Reviewing the scoreboard
  • Learning from successes and failures
  • Removing obstacles so that new commitments can be added
  • Customize your WIG session to the unique needs of your team.

6. Going for the Goal: A positive attitude goes a long way.

Goal setting can be daunting, or it can be approached with optimism and creativity. Getting off to the right start by using this process helps ensure the hard work of achieving the WIG will be rewarding and a learning experience for all involved. Make sure your team views their successes as failures as learning opportunities to grow and transform together.


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