“A goal without a plan, is just a wish.” –Antione de Saint-Exupery
This is one of my favorite quotes of all time, and is very appropriate to providing good leadership to your employees. All over the Internet you will see articles, blogs, and other random comments debating the difference between a MANAGER and a LEADER.
After pouring through at least 100 opinions of other leadership experts, the underlying component they all have in common is “vision.” They all agree that an effective leader provides a long-term vision to his or her employees, whereas a manager simply provides oversight of day-to-day operations.
So if this is what separates a leader from a manager, the next logical question is, “What makes an effective leader?” Once again you’ll see an array of mass-fortunes that have been made writing books, leading seminars, and giving interviews, by individuals addressing the same topic.
In my own opinion, even though it is greatly underpaid compared to many other leadership bloggers, is rather simple: Leadership requires passion in what you do, a goal for the future, and a plan on how to achieve it. It doesn’t require catchphrases, motivational speeches, (or my favorite) group activities like “trust-falls.”
In order to be an effective leader, you must be willing to make challenging (but reachable) goals, and initiate a plan on how to achieve them. This is a big leadership fail in my current job. My boss is only a year or so from retirement and will sit down at most of our staff meetings and begin throwing out mindless and lofty goals with no strategies on how to achieve them. Knowing these goals were randomly pulled from the sky, no one takes her seriously, and we all wait for them to fade away, including her.
This is pointless. The only benefit I receive from these examples of “lazy leadership” is making great observations on what not to do. An effective leader creates a plan to achieve the goals of their long-term vision, and actively communicates the steps necessary to attain it.
Here are several tips I have found beneficial in creating a plan to achieve goals:
Create a Deadline: goals are only effective if you select a specific time frame in which to achieve them. By creating a deadline, you establish a sense of urgency not only for yourself, but your employees as well.
Break Large Goals into Smaller Components: If the goal you are creating for your employees is large, or long-term, make sure you break your goal into smaller, achievable steps along the way.
Communicate Progress Regularly: It is very important to have an open communication with employees about the progress you have made to your goal, and how much further you have to go. This will help keep everyone involved in achieving this goal focused, and informed on what still needs to be done.
Celebrate Small Successes: Even the smallest successes and achievements when perusing goals should be celebrated to keep employees motivated.
Allow Room for Adjustment: Even the best-planned goals can have unforeseen problems. It is definitely okay to adjust your goal as you go along to accommodate situations that are out of your control.
These are my tips for making successful plans to achieve goals, but I am always open to more input from my followers. Please feel free to comment below with any suggestions you may have on achieving goals.