Five Tips On Crafting Leadership Goals for 2018

Creating a short list of business goals for the year ahead will help you and your team zero in on what matters. Here are five tips on how to design your goal short list for 2018 with the help of this Goodstone Group executive coach.

December 14, 2017 – You can’t underestimate the importance of organizational goals — especially in turbulent times. Achieving meaningful annual goals requires setting a high bar, well in advance. December is an ideal time to do that, according to a new report by David Peck, region head for western and central U.S. and senior executive coach at global executive coaching network Goodstone Group.

“I know that after a long year, and during the home stretch to the holidays, it’s easy to get stuck in reactive mode, and to tell yourself you’ll think about goals later,” said Mr. Peck. “Don’t! End-of-year/start-of-new-year goals and resolutions are just what the doctor ordered. They refocus us on the big picture, and reconnect us with our ideals. They energize us.”

As part of his executive coaching practice, Mr. Peck recently completed a series of CEO calls focused on goal-setting. “The process was as illuminating as it was invigorating,” he said. “So I wanted to share the exercises we went through together.”

His motivation, Mr. Peck explained, is to help professionals make the most of the season, get out of their default-reactive mode and raise the bar on their proactive goal-setting mode for 2018. “Because, once in place,” he said, “your short list of business goals and objectives will seriously increase your odds for success by helping you and your team focus on what’s really important — and tune out the rest.”


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Setting Goals

No matter what, or whom, you lead, the first rule in setting goals is to assume that your organization’s existence depends on them, said the report. The goals you pick will focus your department or organization on where to spend the vast majority of energy, attention and efforts next year.

This exercise recognizes that your organization is a mosaic of people, said Mr. Peck, and that its success and sense of cohesion are intimately tied to the hearts, minds and actions of the professionals that choose to come to work every day. Your people.

“So you’ll want to set aside some undisturbed time to reflect on what’s most important to you and your employees in the year ahead, and periodically, to revisit those goals,” said Mr. Peck. Be thorough and clear, and pick a short list — no more than five key goals for the year ahead.


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U.S. employers expect hiring to pick up in the first quarter of next year, with 21 percent planning to add staff between January and March, according to the latest “Employment Outlook Survey,” released today by ManpowerGroup. Employers in all U.S. regions and industry sectors expect headcount to grow.


Mr. Peck provided five tips on how to design your goal short list for the New Year. Keep in mind that some of these can take the form of one-on-one interactions, he said, and some will be more appropriate for executive team discussion once you’ve gotten your initial responses.

1) Bottom-up and top-down. No one employee — including no leader — has all the answers. So you should not only identify your business goals, but ask the people reporting to you to do the same, and then ask them to repeat the exercise with their reports, and so on, throughout the organization. This will be essential data for setting goals that are credible and achievable, said the report.

2) Clean out your blind spots. Every organization has them — and so does every leader. Here again, you can and should draw on your colleagues and reports for help. The questions below are designed to help you and your employees find the blind spots that can lead your organization or group astray, said Mr. Peck, so that you can clean them out and chart a clear course forward:

  • What have we tried to achieve in 2017 that we must accomplish in 2018, and how will that be rewarding to you and your team?
  • In thinking about our outcomes (results, quality, customer engagement, etc.), what targets are we hitting — and which ones are we missing due to our own actions as executives?
  • What am I not hearing or dealing with as a leader that I need to address?
  • Is there anything I can do to get out of the way of — and, indeed, accelerate — our success?

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3) Lessons learned this year… to incorporate into next year. The turn of the year offers a perfect opportunity for a business to evaluate its performance, and adjust course. Mr. Peck said to consider these questions:

  • What new lessons has 2017 taught us — and what lessons from 2017 and prior yearshave we yet to fully address? Are there endemic issues that need to be looked at?
  • How has our business ecosystem — market, products, customers, providers, partners, costs, competition or regulatory landscape — changed since last year? How well did our strategy track in response, or in leading those changes? And what do we need to adjust in 2018?
  • How have our “SWOT” (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) evolved in 2017, and what should that mean for our goals in the new year?

What are the most relevant metrics for today? What do success, neutral or failure look like in 2018? What should our measurable goals be going forward?

4) Make them relevant to your bigger picture. Once you’ve settled on your goals for 2018, ask yourself: How aligned are these goals — and our people — with our organization’s business plan and three-year strategic priorities? Is it aligned with its larger mission and vision? This is a good opportunity to check your direction before plunging into the New Year, said Mr. Peck.

5) Communicate. Decide the best way to package your goals, and then communicate them throughout your organization. How will you cascade these messages, and ensure everyone is crystal clear on the goals you’ve worked so hard to design?

Experienced Coach

For over 12 years, Mr. Peck has coached top executives and emerging leaders globally. He brings to each client the informed perspective of having been a senior operating executive prior to becoming a coach, and of his current role as a market and client leader over several regions for Goodstone Group.

His clients are often at important inflection points in their development: pre- and post-CEO succession, strengthening board relationships, improving employee engagement, enhancing influence and communication, meeting downturn challenges, onboarding/changing roles and improving effectiveness and business outcomes. His clients are said to appreciate his candor, commitment, good humor and ability to quickly grasp their situation and work effectively within their unique organizational needs and challenges.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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