Set Goals When the Heat's On
Come back a few years and picture you and me standing beside my fighter that is capable of speeds near twice the speed of sound. You’re about ready to crawl into the rear cockpit for a ride with me as your pilot-in-command. Before climbing up the side of this sleek, needle nosed, high performance fighter, you might have a few questions.
The first is, “Which way are we going to take off?”
“We’re parked in this direction," I answer. "We might as well take-off the same way."
“Which way are we going to go once we’re airborne?” you ask.
“This direction’s as good as the other 359 available to us,” I respond.
“How high are we going to go?”
“Until the jet quits climbing.”
“How far are we going to go?”
“I don’t know exactly but until we run out of fuel.”
About then you will probably decide to skip the flight. “Thanks anyway!”
Many managers try to manage like that and can’t figure out why they can’t get a long-term commitment from their team members. To build a strong, committed high performance team, each individual must be able to describe in detail what the leaders’ vision is for the organization and how they will achieve it. Equally important is the vision the team members have for themselves.
The vision we invite our people to share with us is the future as it best suits the organization and the people who make up the organization. Helping your people experience the future through their own eyes is critical to effective leadership. Do you know what you’re working for? Can you see it in great detail? If you can’t, how can you help your people see what they’re working for? Helping your people truly see what they’re working for is one of the greatest, lifelong gifts you can ever give them.
The great Mad Magazine cover boy philosopher, Alfred E. Newman, said, “Most folks don’t know what they want, but they’re pretty sure they don’t have it.” Leading your team blindly without clear goals renders all of your sophisticated navigation equipment useless. Being driven by a sense of dissatisfaction with the present is not enough if there is no clear course established. A clearly charted course or plan is the second-best thing to having a distinct goal. With a clearly charted course, you and your organization know in which direction you want to go. You are intending toward something…even if the something is not well defined.
Here are three important steps to get started setting goals:
Determine what you really want: What is your vision? How does that translate into specific goals?
Calculate what it will cost you: How much time, money, and energy will it take you to reach your goals?
Decide if you are willing to pay that price: If so, when should I start paying the price?
"Deciding not to have a specific goal is a specific goal."