Leaders are familiar with goals. They are driven by them. Their change efforts are bent towards accomplishing them. Goals make leadership tick. Periodically, leaders sit down; think hard, size up the future to design goals that will help ensure realisation of the bottom line and fulfilment of the organisation’s mission. Goals are stated ambitions; and all leaders know they must set them and follow them up till they are accomplished. For, failure to set goals reduces leadership to management by chance and hunches – a sure recipe for corporate disaster.
Profits of goal setting
The benefits of goal setting are numerous; but I will outline a few here.
* Definition: Goals help define an organisation’s mission and concretise its vision drive. Your organisation’s social architecture is partly defined and described by the goals you set and pursue. Your leadership too is rated and characterised according to the goals you accomplish. Simply, people know your organisation’s mission and rate what you’re doing at the helm by the visions (goals) you pursue. Thus, with neither goals nor vision, your leadership and organisation are essentially without identity.
* Direction: As products of visioning, goals help provide direction for an organisation. The over-arching purpose of leadership is to influence and maintain progressive change. But change is an end-product of realised goals in a particular direction. Thus, if you say you’re moving your organisation up, your staff and the public would be itching to know the direction you’re heading in. It’s your goals that tell them the way. Where no goals exist, there will be no sense of direction, no challenge and nothing to aim at. Consequently, workers become glued to norm and the organisation stagnates.
* Drive: Goals help the workforce know what the organisation is aiming at; and if this knowledge is coupled with appropriate motivation, aggregate productivity invariably improves. Thus, goals indirectly infuse the workforce with the drive for better performances. Leaders looking for an elixir to cure pervasive sloth at the workplace should try goal setting and chasing.
* Diversity: Goals can introduce diversity into an organisation’s fossilised work culture. The pursuit of new goals necessarily demands change in programmes and work-style, and the introduction of new production process, programmes, materials, machines and, probably, personnel. Colour and variety are marks of an organisation in sincere pursuit of specific goals.
* Discovery: Goal setting can help reveal the limits of your organisation and your own leadership. The elephant may not know it has no wings until it attempts to fly. Your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses come to the fore when you attempt to swim against the tide of norm towards a goal that takes your net-worth to a new height. Leaders who periodically set goals, review and pursue them have a realistic rating of their organisation’s capabilities and their own competencies. Those who don’t set goals work with a distorted view of whom and what they and their organisations are!
* Development: Your organisation cannot develop without your setting goals and realising them. Development is the cumulative effects of goals set and realised. Leaders of successful world-class organisations are goal-oriented.
* Description: Goals help describe an organisation’s successes. In establishments where things happen effortlessly, success is neither celebrated nor appreciated because it’s neither sought nor paid for. But where goals are set and their impact measured, the organisation has something to flaunt and the leader has a reason to cheer.
Pitfalls of goal setting
Not all goals are “scored”. Both corporate and political leaders are familiar with painful misses, when goals end in mirage. People may fail to reach their goals because the goals aren’t SMART. That means they aren’t: S-specific; M-measurable; A-achievable; R-realistic; T-time-bound.
First, a goal should be specific, expressed in clear unequivocal terms. It should be limited to one-shot one-track target(s).
Second, they should be measurable. Your goal must lend itself to incremental measuring after it has been accomplished. There’s no other way to know that the attainment of a goal has impacted the organisation positively but by measuring the quality and quantity of the resultant change.
Third, the goals should be achievable. Authentic leadership doesn’t cloud goal setting by embarking on a wild goose chase. You’re engaged in self-delusion if you pursue vaulting ambitions that your competencies and organisation’s resources can’t secure and hold.
Fourth, goals have to be realistic or they will end up as wishful thinking. Yes, goal setting isn’t a game of ideals. Facts are needed to conceive and birth ambitions. Of course, chutzpah is necessary but active faith in effective leadership isn’t a blind jump.
Fifth, goals must be time-bound. There must be a time frame for accomplishing all set goals. Otherwise, corporate commitment and fidelity to the objectives of the goals will be lacking. There won’t be any sense of urgency needed to galvanise the workforce and move them to bend their backs in service in order to realise the goal.
Thus, goals set without a time-frame fade away and are jettisoned by and by.
Thought for the day: A single Step is the beginning of a Million's Miles
Prayer: God gives me wisdom to know what to do and how to do them