Why do some leaders achieve their goals while others fail to do so? Why do even the best leaders sometimes struggle with reaching goals for themselves and their teams? And how do you help ensure it doesn’t become a problem for you?
I have found these seven common reasons leaders fail to achieve their goals.
Use this as a checklist when you get the sense that a goal is starting to lag. Chances are at least one of these is the culprit.
1. The goals are too many and too big.
Yes, it is possible to set too lofty and too many goals for yourself and your team! Some goals can take months and even years to achieve. If you have several of these with unrealistic deadlines, you will stretch yourself and your team too thin. This leads to executive and team burnout, an issue I deal with frequently with my coaching clients and in corporate retreats.
Ideally, you should only have a few big lofty goals at one time. You need to ensure you and your team have the time and energy to work on them, so don’t overdo it. A good suggestion is a few major goals and a half-dozen minor goals.
2. They fail to write the goals down.
I am amazed at the number of executive coaching clients I ask to show me their goals, and they can’t produce anything. Usually, they tell me the goals are in their head, and they don’t need to write them down. I answer with statistics that show it’s much more effective when you commit your goals in writing. This can be on a notepad, a planner, a whiteboard, or even your bathroom mirror…just get them down somewhere other in your head.
3. They don’t look at their goals often enough.
This goes hand in hand with #2 above. Not only is it important to write your goals, it is equally important to review them daily.
Have you ever had one of those days where you were extremely busy, but felt at the end of the day that you had done so much, yet accomplished very little of real significance? If you don’t physically write down and keep your goals in a place you can see them every day, chances are, you’ll forget about them. “Out of sight, out of mind.”
I give my clients a small planner they can carry in their pocket, purse, or briefcase. It small enough to carry with them at all times, and serves to keep them focused on priorities.
When it comes to goals, it is important that they be written and displayed where you will see them often. Though a simple technique and one you have likely heard before…are you actively and consistently writing and reviewing your goals?
Can your team see the goals that pertain to them? How often do you question the accomplishments of your team, when the real issue is they do not know the goals for which they should be aiming?
4. They don’t personalize their goals.
- Why do you want to accomplish the goal?
- How will you feel when you achieve the goal?
- What will it mean for you to achieve your goal?
- How will the accomplishment of the goal affect your team?
If you don’t have clear answers to these questions, chances are you don’t want to achieve the goal badly enough. In addition, if you can’t make it personal to your people, they won’t have the motivation to make it happen.
As a leader, you must sustain the drive to achieve the goal. To do this, you need to be clear about the significance of the goal…crystal clear!
5. They don’t review and adjust the goals.
Things change. People get off track, and sometimes people set goals way above their abilities. If you are checking in on your goals often enough, you can adjust and change them where necessary. It also helps to review the plan, see the results of current efforts, and get a clear indication of the progress of your team.
In today’s business world, agile planning is critical. If something doesn’t work, either determine what needs to be changed to make it work, or give yourself and your team permission to change direction entirely when it is clearly in the best interest of the company to do so.
6. They keep the goals to themselves.
In most cases, goals should not be kept secret. Though many fear sharing their goals with others – even their colleagues and teams – this can do more harm good. Goals not only guide us and keep us on track; failing to reach them also helps us determine better solutions. Goals have value, whether we reach them or not. Thomas Edison openly shared not only his goals with his team, but also his mistakes when testing failed. The next time you switch on a light, know there was a goal, an enormous amount of testing, thousands of failures, and a dedicated and persistent team behind it.
Does your team know what your proverbial light bulbs are?
Once you have written down your goals, publicize them. Announce them to everyone you know: colleagues, team members, family, friends, and maybe even your enemies for ultimate accountability.
It may make you feel a bit uncomfortable, but to change, you have to get uncomfortable.
7. They don’t have a support network.
You don’t have to pursue goals alone on an island. In fact, you will reach them faster and more effectively if you invite others to join you. This is where a good executive coach can really assist you. He or she will challenge you and ask good questions to help you come to your own solid conclusions. Accountability and follow-up is imperative in the goal process. Find someone who can be both supportive and objective as you seek to reach your goals and encourage your team to do the same.
Dave Ferguson is “The Leaders’ Coach”, an internationally recognized executive leadership coach, speaker, facilitator, and author. For help in reaching your goals, “ASK COACH DAVE” at 704-907-0171 or at Dave@AskCoachDave.com.