Leadership Competencies

3 leadership goals to set for 2022

Few people set more leadership goals than billionaire Richard Branson.

Branson sets simple goals, like becoming a better listener and getting in shape. But he also sets audacious goals, like starting businesses and going to space.

While Branson fails now and then, many of his goals come true. In 2021, Branson became the first billionaire to fly into space using his own spacecraft.

No matter how goals are created — Branson listed his process in a blog post — or how daring they are, he said that the important thing is to simply have goals.

“Even if you only get one step closer, it’s still a step in the right direction,” he wrote.

 

Short or long-term goals? Yes.

Some leaders set short-term goals, days or weeks at a time. Others create goals that set the tone for a year or work toward a mastery that can take a lifetime.

However, all of these methods work together, according to Adam Hartung, an author and Vistage speaker.

For example, short-term goals can be useful to escape tough times. Hartung found in his research that companies experiencing growth stalls — two consecutive quarters of declining revenues — are often close to their demise. A short-term goal can be used to notice and climb out of these kinds of stalls.

But the best leaders want more than to just stay afloat, even during a tough time. This is where long-term goals to grow revenue become essential, Hartung said.

And even when growing, the difference between companies growing revenues at 5, 10, or 17% each year is massive, he said. But many of the differences between these companies come from their goals.

This is why goal setting is essential, Hartung said. Those who don’t set good goals often lose their business, whereas those who set goals can thrive.

Here’s how leaders can improve in setting three types of goals.

1. How to set personal goals

Personal goals — better sleep or an improved diet — are more important for leaders than they initially seem, said Alyssa Spaw, a St. Petersburg, Florida-based wellness coach and Vistage speaker.

When leaders improve their health, Spaw said that they have more energy and focus in life and at work.

But many leaders may feel like they don’t have time for personal goals. This is why Spaw said that it’s helpful for leaders to break down personal goals into smaller chunks.

“We’re continuously surprising ourselves by what we were capable of,” Spaw said. “Small goals will grow into bigger goals. You’ll test where your comfort zone is and where you have capacity to grow.”

Adopting a new habit is difficult, so Spaw suggests tying a new habit to an old one. For example, those who want to meditate can tie it into brushing their teeth — no brushing until you meditate for five minutes.

Setting goals also helps people plan for real life. For example, someone planning to realistically lose weight must consider what they’ll do for dinners out, temptations, and holidays.

“Most people have been through the wringer on starting a goal,” Spaw said. “They fall off. The majority of the time, they use the same excuses. If you look deep into those excuses, you can find some answers and work around those excuses in the future.”

2. How to set business goals

Most leaders set too many internal business goals, Hartung said. But internal goals — such as improving operations, reducing costs or increasing profits — will keep companies behind, he believes.

“The more you focus on operational excellence and the more you tighten up the system, the less you’re capable of adapting to external disruptions,” Hartung said. “The reality is there are going to be external disruptions.”

In his research, Hartung found that it’s better to set external goals, those accounting for a business’s biggest threats and opportunities.

These goals might start with a question:

  • “How do I increase revenue?”
  • “How do I get into new markets?”
  • “How can we launch a new product line?”

“Those are the kinds of goals that will sustain you long-term,” Hartung said. “They’ll allow you to open your eyes and see outside so you can make your organization adaptable to market trends.”

Plus, the revenue growth that tends to come with external goals often takes care of the internal goals. Better revenue almost always means better operations and increased profits.

3. How to set leadership goals

Leadership goals can be tricky. How can you know if you’re being a better listener, a better mentor or better managing your time?

Spaw said that the key is to make leadership goals tangible, then act immediately. 

“One of the most valuable things would be to sit down and say, ‘I just learned about this concept. What is one way that I can start to create this within my life?’” Spaw said.

If a leader is working through a leadership book, Spaw said that they can work on a concept from one chapter each week. They can turn a concept from that chapter into an action item and focus on the action for the whole week.

Perhaps some actionable items won’t work as well as others, but failure is better than never trying.

And the best leaders also typically have a group or partner to hold them accountable. They tell others about what they’re doing and get as to what they could do better.

“Those are the people that are going to push you out of your comfort zone,” Spaw said. “The only way you’re going to grow and implement new things is if you’re pushed out of your comfort zone.”

 

Related Resources

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Category: Leadership Competencies

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About the Author: Vistage Staff

Vistage facilitates confidential peer advisory groups for CEOs and other senior leaders, focusing on solving challenges, accelerating growth and improving business performance. Over 2…

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