3 Methods for Setting Attainable Leadership Goals and Objectives

It’s pretty easy to set goals. We do it all the time, even when we’re not thinking about it… Whether it’s jotting yourself a note to respond to an email, or telling yourself that you’re going to skip the drive-through and cook at home. While small goals like those are pretty easy to accomplish, a successful leader steps beyond the everyday objective of simply being productive by setting aspirational leadership goals and objectives.

Successful leaders have aspirations for themselves, for their team, and for the business that they’re passionate about. And while some people seem to have a natural knack for getting things done, most of us need a framework to work within to help us stagger our goals into more digestible pieces. 

Let’s look at three ways successful leaders organize their leadership goals and objectives into more manageable concepts:

Locke and Latham’s 5 Principles

The Locke and Latham goal-setting theory takes what we understand about SMART goals and pushes them even further. Doctors Edwin Locke and Gary Latham spent their careers studying the elements of successful goal setting and came up with five standard principles that help us stay motivated and moving. 

  1. Clarity, which simply means setting leadership goals and objectives that are clear. When you understand what you are trying to achieve, you are more likely to be motivated by them, and it’s easier to measure how close you are to the finish line. 
  2. Challenge, but don’t make the goal out of reach. People like the inertia of self-competition, especially when it’s clear that their own behavior is the driving force behind success. Make a goal too difficult, though, and it actually demotivates. 
  3. Commitment, or ensuring that you are willing to put the work in towards finishing the goal. Half-hearted promises to yourself are of no more use than simply telling yourself in the mirror that you’re going to “be more social.” While it’s good that you’re thinking about how you want to change, you have to put your heart into it. 
  4. Feedback, from both yourself and from others. Accountability partners are a huge part of goal setting, as we are often more inclined to work harder not to “disappoint” others than we are to not disappoint ourselves. 
  5. Task complexity, or breaking the most overwhelming steps of your goal into smaller pieces that are goals in-and-of themselves.

BSQ Goals

BSQ is shorthand for “Think Big, Act Small, and Move Quickly.” For those who like to keep things moving, and find that they are often overwhelmed by the length of time it takes to reach difficult goals, this is the leadership goals and objectives framework for you. 

Thinking Big means that you are setting goals that are going to both challenge you and make you a more successful person. These are the huge things that we want to accomplish, like increasing the overall profits of our business or learning a new language, so you can be more marketable to other countries.

Acting Small means constantly and consistently knocking out smaller goals that are formed based off of the initial big goal. Using the learning a language example, this could be writing down ten new phrases you want to learn each week, and sticking to those plans every week, without fail. These smaller goals help you track progress and feel successful on your way to your major accomplishment. 

Lastly, Act Quickly means that you never stop moving. Set a timeline that is going to push you harder than you feel comfortable with… Then, when you get comfortable, make that timeline even tighter. Continue to strive to keep your objectives time-bound. 

Tiered Goals Framework

In the tiered goals framework, you go beyond what the goal is and really hone in on why you want to accomplish that goal in the first place. 

From Cultivated Culture, “In his iconic TED talk, Start With Why, Simon Sinek talks about why this is so powerful and he illustrates it through a concept called The Golden Circle:

Starting from the outside of the circle, you describe exactly what it is that you want to accomplish… Upping your team’s productivity by 10%, going to five conferences this year, or running a marathon. This is the easy part that most of us are familiar with. 

Moving into the red “How,” you start to think about the exact steps you have to take to accomplish that goal. These steps might be literal, like actually attending a conference, or they may be more social-emotional, like being courageous enough to ask your higher ups for the funds to attend said conferences. 

Finally, and the most unique part of this framework, is the “Why.” When we think about goals, we often don’t put the time into understanding what the motivation is behind the goal. Sometimes, our goals are actually a way to escape from something larger that we should be working on. For example, saying that you want to up your team’s productivity is all fine and well, but if you’re only doing it to address a larger motivation issue, that’s the real goal you should be working on. When we think critically about our goals, they begin to build off of each other and help us change our mindset about what goal-setting really is. 

Ready to Set Your Own Leadership Goals?

Want to learn more about setting goals that help you grow as a leader? Catalyst Group ECR works with business owners and executives to help them realize their potential and experience growth in their focus areas. Through one-on-one meetings, we work with you to build a sense of community and rapport that provides a foundation for growth. Schedule a meeting today!

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