One Simple Way To Be Better Than 95% Of Leaders

goalslineWhen i speak at conferences, I often ask the audience to answer two very simple questions by raising their hands:

  1. Put your hand up if you work in a team that has goals.  Everyone puts their hand up.

  2. Leave your hand up if you can tell me what they are.

At this point only 5% of people leave their hand in the air

This will be astonishing to most leaders. But it is a pervasive element in teams all around the world.

There are a few key reasons, but the most simple one to explain - but possibly the most difficult to execute - is the shear fact that most people don’t care about them.  And we tend to pay attention to what’s important to us.

The Two Reasons We Have Goals

You see, goals need to do two things:

Firstly, they need to guide people’s behaviours. This means there needs to be a clear objective, but more than that, the goal should send a signal to people about what is most important to work on each day.

Secondly, they need to inspire people. People need to WANT to engage in the tasks that are most important. And to do this consistently, they need to be inspired to do so. Why? Because unless your goals are asking people to turn up and go through the motions, then chances are that the things you want them to do are slightly out of their comfort zone - and that’s how they’re going to achieve those goals. And you, me and most other humans need some inspiration to do the uncomfortable thing, rather than going through the motions.

What Inspires You Might Not Inspire Them

When we look at the majority of goals, they are based around hitting targets and numbers. Acquiring customers, making budget, being more efficient. Those things probably inspire you as a manager - because those are parts of the business that interest you - but chances are the average person in your team really doesn’t care.  If you ask them they might toe the line and give you the response they think you want to hear - why wouldn’t they?

Go Out On a Limb - find out what’s really important

Your team’s goals don’t necessarily have to be the goals that were handed down from Head Office. Sure, they obviously need to achieve those things, but maybe you can set some other, higher level goals that would mean that those things get accomplished anyway. If your target is to hit a certain budget, then maybe your goal could be to be the highest performing division in the state. Maybe that sense of status and achievement is something that appeals to your people.

And the goals don’t always have to be outcome-driven, they can also be culturally-driven. I worked with a football team once whose goal was to ‘Be the team that everyone wants to play for’. Part of this was winning titles, but you can be sure it wasn’t the only thing.

These things might sound fluffy to your average manager, but this is really why most teams don’t have inspirational goals - because it requires you to take a risk, and maybe to be a little vulnerable.

Whatever you think an inspirational goal might be, I urge you to go ahead and find out what really inspires your people. Ask them straight out, but also observe their behaviours and see what drives them.

The Challenge is pretty simple. Create goals that really inspire people. When I ask that question next time I’m at a conference, I hope it’s one of your staff members that leaves their hand up.

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