What Great Leaders Get Right About Setting Goals

What Great Leaders Get Right About Setting Goals

John Eades 27/02/2020 6

I have yet to meet an ambitious professional who isn’t goal-driven. While there are certainly varying methods of goal-setting, research done by Dr. Gail Matthews found people are 42 percent more likely to achieve a goal if it’s written down.

The challenge is, your goal-driven mindset could hurt you if you’re leading a team. I know from experience. Early in my career, I set out to get a title that included more prestige, power, and money. When my hard work paid off with the promotion, I pushed my drive and ambition on my new team members. Needless to say, the human steam roller approach didn’t yield the results I had in mind. 

Fast forward five years, and after interviewing hundreds of the best leaders on the planet, it's clear great leaders understand two simple things about goal setting. First, they know how important goals are because the true meaning of the word “team” means “coming together as a group to achieve a common goal.”  Second, they set goals their team cares about achieving.

“Great leaders set goals their team cares about achieving.”  

Setting a clear goal for your team is instrumental in achieving bigger and better things. There is a formula I wrote about in Building the Best to help leaders set more effective team goals that their team will care about achieving:

Clear Objective + Completion Date + Carrot = Effective Team Goal 

All Elements of the Formula are Key

The reason the formula is so effective is that it speaks to the varied motivations of people on your team. For example, some people are intrinsically motivated to complete a meaningful mission (clear objective), other people may be internally motivated to achieve something based on their competitive nature (completion date), while others may care about getting a reward (carrot).

If your goal speaks to all these different motivators, the entire team will care about achieving it. If you miss part of the formula, the likelihood each team member sustains the amount of work ethic required to achieve the goal is dramatically lowered.  

Can the Objective be Money?

This formula can be used for both short-term and annual goals for your team. One of the most popular questions I get is in Building the Best Workshops, “Is it ok if my team goal is a revenue goal?” If you lead a team in the business world and revenue is how you're measured, it is entirely acceptable for the goal to be a revenue or earnings number. However, if you use a revenue goal, make sure your team's carrot is a bonus for hitting it.

If you want to go next level and go beyond the obvious of a revenue objective, here are a couple of my favorites:

  • Customers Positively Impacted
  • Games Won
  • Industry Award Received
  • Highest Ranking Team in the Company
  • Perfect Execution
  • Number of New Customers Won

How Goals Get Achieved

Once an effective team goal is in place for your team, now the real work begins because setting a team goal and achieving it are two very different things. As Dave Ramsey said, "Goals are dreams with work boots on."

When you get an entire team making sacrifices and self-disciplined choices, you will be shocked at what your team will achieve.

Help Me Help Others

The best leaders do an incredible job of setting team goals their people care about. What’s the best team goal you have been a part of, clarifying or achieving? How important is setting a team goal?

Get the #1 Best New Management Book to Read by Book Authority: Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success is published by McGraw-Hill. Learn the stories, principles, and tools to help elevate the way you lead others.

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company that exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. He is currently booking events and speaking engagements for 2020. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.  

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  • Mark Jones

    I like leaders that have a strong vision

  • Oliver Manser

    There’s nothing more powerful than having a boss always excited & fired up!!!!!

  • Stuart Parker

    Good post

  • Dougie McArthur

    This is truly inspirational

  • Peter Haze

    You have grabbed my attention

  • Paul Lawson

    Stand aside............I'm coming to takeover my company!

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John Eades

Leadership Expert

John is the CEO of LearnLoft, author of, F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader and host of the 'Follow My Lead' Podcast. He writes or has been featured on Inc.com, LinkedIn Pulse, TrainingIndustry.com, eLearningIndustry.com, CNBC Money, and more. John completed his education at the University of Maryland College. 

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