Set goals to keep your eye on the ball
ASwe have moved into 2010 and made our personal New Year’s resolutions, it is important we consider our professional goals for the year ahead as well.
I find it astonishing and a great concern that I see around 85 per cent of business executives not actively setting goals at the time they join The Executive Connection (TEC).
Leaders who can move quickly into new niche markets or who can demonstrate that they can uniquely satisfy client needs will have great growth potential in the new year.
However, to accomplish this, business leaders need to be goal-oriented and find ways to stay focused on their priorities.
So how do you set goals? Most of us know that they need to be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and have a time frame attached to them.
If the targets are unrealistically high, you will give up before achieving them and if they are too low, there is no challenge or room for growth and you will fail yourself anyway. But this is just the first step. For effective goal-visualising achievement of the goals and imagining what it ‘‘feels like’’ having achieved them is the best way of ensuring success.
Small businesses in particular can suffer from ‘‘store blindness’’ where they become so familiar with their own way of doing business that they overlook certain aspects and stop questioning them.
But business growth is about direction, not speed, and without clearly defined goals, a CEO may be steering his or her company in the wrong direction or simply waste time meandering, rather than setting sights on a clear outcome.
In my role as chair with The Executive Connection (TEC), Imeet monthly with a group of top leaders from a range of South Australian businesses and hold them accountable for their goals, by challenging their nominated approach and ensuring they remain on track to achieve them.
But for those without such a structured peer support group, I recommend sharing your goals with colleagues, friends, family or anyone who will challenge your assumptions and then hold you accountable for achieving your desired outcome.
The extra commitment to someone other than yourself will give you extra drive because you won’t want to disappoint them and they don’t want you to disappoint yourself.
Goals also need to stay visible and need to be revisited regularly.
Try putting them on your desk, make them your computer screen wallpaper, stick them in the car or on the fridge, or wherever you feel they will have the most impact over a period of time.
Goal-setting is a tool that can increase your productivity, maximise your effectiveness and assist you in staying action-oriented amid the ‘‘noise’’ of everyday business.
Hard work is certainly a virtue but the most successful executives work smart as well as hard.
The most common mistakes when setting goals: Mistake 1: Not revisiting goals – goals will do you no good filed away in a drawer.
Revisit them regularly and imagine having achieved them. Mistake 2: Keeping them to yourself – share your goals with someone who will hold you accountable and who will celebrate with you when you achieve them. Mistake 3: Tunnel vision – financial targets are important but so is leadership, personal development, innovation, productivity etc.