Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke


Leadership and Goal Attainment

Volume: May 2017

Once a year, Sal and his eight direct reports review and create the major goals for their team. In fact, they have a name for their annual meeting: The BFHG Retreat (i.e., The Big, Fat, Hairy Goals Retreat). The moniker for their meeting adds some levity, however, what they accomplish is important and serious. Over the years, Sal and his team have learned a great deal about creating goals. They found that creating goals according to the old acronym of SMART (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) truly does set people up for success. They also have learned a great deal about goal attainment. Sal and his team focus on the following items while striving to achieve major goals.

  1. Seek to Form Habits. Goal attainment is a by-product of other positive behaviors. This is why successful leaders like Nick Saban of University of Alabama focus on processes and systems more than winning. Consistent adherence to processes often leads to consist results. In other words, if logical and strategic processes are created and behaviors are coached to follow those processes, the result (i.e., winning) will naturally occur. As Saban and his staff manage their team’s processes, they teach players good habits that lead the team to victory. I call this the Process of Winning. Likewise, effective business leaders strive to create consistencies in critical areas that lead to excellent individual and/or team execution.
  1. Think Compound Interest. When Albert Einstein was asked his opinion about humankind’s greatest invention, he responded, “Compound interest.” What I love about his response is two-fold. Not only was Mr. Einstein quick-witted, but he also had great insight. Think about the ingredients involved in growing rich from compound interest: Small and steady investments, a fair amount of self-control, decent patience, and a long-term plan. Leaders can experience the splendor of long-term goal attainment by using a three-step formula.
    1. The first step is regular investments in your people. This will help to grow their skills and also serves as a retention tool. In addition, your organization will have a highly-skilled workforce with above average morale. Team members who are talented, tenured, and pumped-up are well-positioned to attain goals and help your organization thrive.
    2. The second step is self-control. Leaders who possess excellent self-control show the emotional intelligence necessary to help others attain their goals. These leaders are disciplined and good problem-solvers. They also possess the ability to coach their people on these vital skills.
    3. The final step is patience and planning. If your organization is a perpetuity, and I hope it is, you have to have a long-term view. This does not mean that possessing a sense of urgency can be thrown out the window. Heck, in our fast-paced world, instilling a sense of urgency in people is of paramount importance. But having the patience to allow long-term strategies and initiatives to unfold is essential as well. The bottom line here is, whether you are an entrepreneur, leading a not-for-profit, or a corporate executive, doing little things right for a long, long time will eventually lead to incredible results.
  1. Use Didactic Thinking. This is the time of year when many strategic retreats are being planned or taking place. Strategic planning calls for organizations to shift their thinking from short-term (i.e., looking down and getting things done strategies) to longer-term and larger goal attainment (i.e., looking up and charting a course strategy). Many leaders fall into a strategic planning trap when they think too sequentially about moving from Point A to Point Z. By beginning at Point A (present day) and thinking sequentially toward where you want the organization to be, many zig-zags occur. These zigs and zags waste time and money. They call for course corrections as they redirect movement to the end-goal. What is preferable and less costly is as straight a line as possible. How leaders can better deliver a straight line from present day to goal attainment is by thinking didactically. Some of you know this concept as reverse engineering. Didactic thinking calls for leadership teams to begin strategic discussions focused on their end goal and then to work their way backward to the present day. During this didactic “process,” important milestones emerge along the way. Stephen Covey referred to this as “beginning with the end in mind.” When thinking strategically, ponder using a didactic process. The ensuing conversations may be more targeted, robust, and lead to a straighter, more successful path.
Bottom Line: The name of the game is results! Good strategic planning will lead to the generation of solid action plans. Action plans pave the road to execution. And effective execution leads to goal attainment and world-class results. Think it, plan it, work it, tweak it. Achieve your goals!
Until next time, be well.
Doug Van Dyke is a goal-oriented executive coach, leadership development expert, strategic planner, and Certified Speaking ProfessionalTM. Contact him today about 1:1 Coaching and Leadership Development at 941-776-1121,  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or visit LeadershipSimplified.com.  
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