Understanding the work that is needed and what the current objectives are is one of the most critical leadership skills one can develop. Carefully annunciating and capturing clear goals may come off as a quaint old practice in days where what was important yesterday is quickly forgotten but it remains one of the most powerful tools in your leadership inventory. Being able to do this can put you ahead of others in several important ways and being able to agree on a set of them with your supervisor is imperative. Although it may be sometimes seemed overused the old proverb of “if you aim at nothing you will hit it every time” still is accurate. In other words, if you have no goals it’s difficult to prove you have achieved anything. Here are the ways being able to write strong goals can help you in your leadership journey.
Good goals are like a compass:
Just as a compass will always point to true north a good goal will keep your attention on important work. Focusing on it will keep you grounded and focused on the actions most critical for you and help separate your mind from the daily distractions that seek to grab our attention. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t allow for work on other opportunities as some good ones will come along which you will need to prioritize. It does mean, however, there is a clearly defined future state to which you are working and making sure there is time dedicated toward it.
Good goals can help you say “no:”
It’s a fallacy to think you should say yes to everything that is thrown your way. If not careful you can find yourself spending the majority of your time on non-essential tasks that are not helping you or the work to move forward in a meaningful way. Good clear goals can protect your time, especially when supervisors know what they are. A good supervisor won’t risk taking attention off of important work that they know someone is spending time and energy toward. It can also, when used with discretion, help clarify where your time needs to go when talking with supervisors about various projects.
Good goals give you a feeling of accomplishment:
It’s in our DNA it seems to need to be able to see progress. That’s why we have such a good feeling when we cross something off of a task list. We will all have tough days at work as well ones where we don’t feel we are hitting our full stride. Seeing progress toward goals or having evidence of past ones helps encourage us and remind us of what we are contributing to the overall work of the organization.
Good goals have a hidden advantage:
Here’s the one thing most people don’t realize about well-written goals; they help you define what success looks like. That’s right! You have a stronger voice in how success is defined when you have crafted a well-written goal. If given the choice most people would rather have a say in their daily work versus simply being told what to do. When you approach a supervisor with a well-written goal you are also going to have the chance to help define it toward your passions and strengths. It’s an incredible advantage to be able to leverage what you care about and what you are good at doing into your daily work. Being proactive about writing goals and sharing them with your supervisor can put you in that position.
Being able to craft well-written goals will allow you to do something that frankly few others in the workplace will do well. A simple internet search on how to write strong goals will yield several easy methods to guide you (the SMART goals approach is a popular method). Having this skill puts you above the din of daily distractions that most people chase all day and allows you to be proactive about a focus on the important work. The people who are doing the important work are the ones who will move ahead and grow their influence in their organizations.