Set goals to keep your eye on the ball

The Advertiser - Careers - - Career Opportunities - Jerry Klee­man Chair­man The Ex­ec­u­tive Con­nec­tion

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.

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