The Basic Four of Leadership: # 1 – Goal Setting

A 200,000-person study by the Jackson Organization confirmed that managers who achieve enhanced business results are significantly more likely to be seen by their employees as strong in the Basic Four areas of leadership:

  • Goal Setting

  • Communication

  • Trust

  • Accountability

Authors Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton used that study as a foundation in their book The Carrot Principle, adding on the accelerator of frequent and effective recognition to illustrate that the relationship between recognition and improved business results is both highly predictable and proven to work.

As in all good things, you must start with the basics.

Setting Clear Goals

The work life of many employees today is seen as a meaningless task with no end in sight. Too many organizations are operating in a vacuum where team members and even their leaders have no idea what is valued. Deprived of direction, team members coast along, getting nowhere fast.

Whoa – did those words just describe the organization that you are a part of? GASP – even your church?

It doesn’t have to be that way.

While leaders cannot often change the tasks in their organizations, they can change team members’ attitudes toward those tasks by setting clear team goals. Be defining the purpose of a task and tying it to a desirable end result, effective leaders infuse work with meaning and purpose. The task remains the same, but its significance in team members’ minds skyrockets.

Great leaders infuse their team with a clear sense of purpose. They not only explain the mission to the organization in terms of serving others, acting with integrity, being the best in their category, and so on, but how that grand, overarching mission applies to specific goals for their team and each individual’s daily work.

Teams need clarity from their leaders: clarity of goals, clarity of progress, and clarity of success. Leaders who provide clarity set an optimistic tone for the future.

A leader has to focus every day on gaining alignment with what matters most to the organization. Achieving goals should be noticed and rewarded while variances from the mission and values should necessitate quick action.

Goal setting may seem to be a basic management skill, but it is rare to find a manager who does this effectively. If you were to think back to an effective manager or leader you’ve had in the past, chances are they not only helped you understand the direction of the team, but how you as an individual contribute to that direction.

The power of a clearly communicated goal is amazing. Cultures around the world from all time periods have created epic myths about journeys through danger, despair, and ultimately, triumph. What makes the journey and its trials worthwhile is the hero’s noble purpose – his goal. Those stories live on today…

Isn’t it time for you to create an amazing legend of your purpose (goal) that permeates deeply within and through every member of your team?

Next: The Basic Four – Communication

Adapted from The Carrot Principle by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

Part 2 of a series

Part 1


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