Do great leaders set goals differently?

How do the very best leaders set team goals? Do they do “goals” differently?

Absolutely, and here are five practices you can use with your people to be an effective leader (with a “case study”). And, as you use these five practices, you’ll immediately see better results and team engagement. So let’s jump into it!

Five Keys to Team Goal-Setting

Here are five crucial practices for leaders when setting team or organizational goals:

1 – Involve Your People: While top-down leadership has its place, incorporating employee and staff input during the goal-setting process is crucial. This fosters a sense of ownership, increases buy-in, and leverages the collective knowledge and experience of the organization. This also gives people opportunities to contribute their ideas and talents. Example: You’d like to have your best sales month ever. You invite your sales managers (3) and their 20 reps each (60 total) to come up with a monthly goal for March to that end.

2 – Embrace SMART Goals: This framework ensures clarity and direction. SMART goals are also easy to track and report. SMART stands for Specific (clearly defined), Measurable (progress can be tracked), Attainable (challenging yet achievable), Relevant (aligned with overall strategy), and Time-bound (with a clear deadline). Example: The sales teams, led by their managers, come up with the monthly goal of making 6,000 sales calls by March 31st.

3 – Break Down Ambitious Goals: Large, long-term goals can feel overwhelming. Dividing them into smaller, more manageable milestones creates a clearer roadmap, keeps teams motivated, and allows for adjustments along the way. Example: Each member of the sales team agrees to average 5 sales calls per day (for 20 working days), to achieve the 6,000 sales calls goal.

4 – Foster and Create Accountability: Leaders need to create an environment where individuals feel responsible for achieving the set goals, regularly report on their goals, and can track progress on their goals. This involves open communication and regular feedback. This can include daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly reporting, potentially combined with training. Example: The sales teams meet every morning to report on the previous day’s results, track monthly progress towards the 6,000 goal, train, and plan for the upcoming day.

5 – Make Goals Fun (Perhaps Even Competitive): Use incentives, competitions, and team rewards to make the goal-setting process fun, rewarding, and motivational. You can have daily or weekly incentives and larger team incentives for big goals. Example: The sales team comes up with small daily incentives for people who hit their goal, sets up daily and weekly competitions for top performers, and agrees to a team “night out” at a ballpark if they hit the 6,000 sales calls goal. The team is excited and motivated by the incentives and competition.

Wrapping Up

Goals and goal-setting are among the most effective tools of great leaders. Great leaders use goals to align individual efforts with a team and organizational objective. The goals boost performance and create a measurable sense of accomplishment. The goals also provide clear direction, motivate people, and create accountability for results.

So, involve your people, set SMART goals, break down big goals, create accountability, and make it fun and competitive. That’s becoming your best!

“One part at a time, one day at a time, we can accomplish any goal we set for ourselves.” – Karen Casey

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