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How can you lead someone if you do not know what you’re leading them towards?

Contributor: Colin Nolan, NCG Coach & Certified SLII® Trainer

Goal setting is an often-discussed topic in the small business and coaching world at large. Successful people know that setting aggressive goals and being held accountable to those goals  leads to growth and the realization of visions. Yet, while the consensus on goal setting is certain for business owners, there remains a disconnect when it comes to goal setting for individuals. This makes little sense when you actually think about it – all great business people achieve their goals through the help and development of others. Yet, why is there not more focus put on them?

When we think about the classic idea of leadership, we can envision a sports captain leading a team to a clear goal: victory. Each individual on a team knows their role, what a good job looks like and has a game plan for how to achieve it. The real world, and your business, is not quite this clear cut and simple. Your employees, the players on YOUR team, are individuals with their own hopes and dreams. They have their own desires and ideas on what victory is.

How can you lead someone if you do not know what you’re leading them towards?

The best leaders know that leadership and goals are individual in their most basic form. Too often, leaders create their hopes and goals for their people in their own heads. “This guy is showing a ton of potential, I think he has what it takes to be a field manager one day”. That’s a great thought, but how do we know if that individual WANTS to be a field manager. You can’t want something for someone more than they want it themselves. That’s a recipe for endless frustration. However, that does not mean we can’t socialize the potential future for people. You may see possibilities that they do not see for themselves. You can shine the light on the possibilities, but they need to select their path.

The best leaders connect individuals to their vision, giving them a line of sight. They understand what seats on the bus need to be occupied for that vision to be realized. They then fill those sets with willing participants – people who are motivated and engaged to achieve their personal goals. The accumulation of these personal goals, when aligned correctly, should lead to the achievement of the overarching team goal: victory.

So – how can this be accomplished? 

We’ve found that defining the goal WITH the individual using a unique set of qualifiers is the game changer for creating impact and success- the Goal vs. the S.M.A.R.T Goal. The S.M.A.R.T goal is a component of the The SLII Experience™, a model created by Ken Blanchard, developed while working on Management of Organizational Behaviors.  

What is a S.M.A.R.T Goal?

Think about the goal using an acronym of the following criteria: 

Specific -Lay out the details! Who’s involved  – The What – By When – How Much? 

Motivating – Does the individual have passion for the path this goal is creating? Do they WANT this?

Attainable – Is this goal realistic by the criteria set? Is success attainable in the timeframe for the applicable individual? 

Relevant  – Does this goal make sense – for the individual, the company – the  overall picture at large? 

Trackable – How can we track this and define winning? What defines winning? 

We recently hosted a podcast on this topic on our channel, Out of the Hourglass. I would encourage you to listen! Molly Nolan and I breakdown the specifics  of S.M.A.R.T Goals and apply to real life scenarios. This podcast is a part of a larger series on the situational leader and available on your favorite podcast app!

How do you create a S.M.A.R.T Goal?

Communicate – Listen – Understand  and WRITE it down. Create a language of alignment – the goal setter and the goal getter create S.M.A.R.T goals together. 

When you can align individuals with their vision – professionally and personally, the leadership activities become easier. The employee is already bought in -. They want to be lead and are on the same page – they told you so! Furthermore, it makes it easier for them to vocalize when they don’t feel the support- or the individual leadership they need to hit the agreed upon goal. Remember, you don’t want to find a rebounder. You want to find someone who WANTS to rebound. You don’t need a scorer, you need someone who loves to shoot.

High level perspective- The best way to get what YOU WANT is to help others get what THEY WANT

What do your people want?

Be Well,

Colin Nolan
Colin Nolan


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