Goals are good. We should all have someplace we are heading. In small business, sharing our goals is critical to their success. We need everyone around us to know and understand what we are trying to achieve. We also need to be careful what goal we telegraph to others.
Once again, the US Federal Government gives us a great example of how treacherous goals can be. For the past eight years, the Republicans have shared their goal of repealing and replacing the ACA. Somewhere in there is probably the goal of improving the cost of and access to health care in the United States. And that’s probably a good goal. Even the Democrats will say that there are things that need to be fixed with the current system.
However, based on what is being done and said, it appears the real goal is to undo one of President Obama’s programs. Those are different goals. When the language and focus is on dismantling a current program, there is no energy around fixing the problem. They are struggling to realize the goal of improving the cost of and access to health care. You know why? Because that’s not the goal they are really working toward. All of the energy and conversation is around repeal and replace, not solve. So, that’s what people are working on — the wrong goal.
People follow where you lead them. And if they find the place you are going either doesn’t resonate with their values, or is not possible to achieve, they tune out. Their effort is less than enthusiastic.
I am not here to agree or disagree with their desire to repeal and replace. I am positing that when this is truly the goal, what’s best for the organization, or in this case, the citizens, will not necessarily be realized.
What is the true goal? Is it a better health care system? Or undoing a program? From everything the leaders are talking about and acting upon, I believe it is undoing.
This happens all the time in business. A leader will say the goal is one thing but their focus will be on something else. For example, the sales manager can say the goal is to increase revenue. However, if that same sales manager insists the sales staff behave in a specific way to reach that goal, she has effectively changed the goal. Now the actual goal is doing things her way. If the actual goal is to increase revenue, that should be the focus. How the sales staff achieves that goal is up to them.
The Importance of Clear Goals
It’s important that we make sure we are really focusing on the core goal. That’s the only way others can follow us and help us achieve that goal. The first step is to ask yourself what outcome you want. What does success look like? In business, the answer should be something that equates to the business being successful; a better bottom line.
Once you know the outcome you are hoping to achieve, every decision should point there. The leader doesn’t have to be the person with all the answers. His responsibility is to convene conversation and exploration. When the leader pulls a team together and they work to identify the best way to accomplish the core goal, decisions are made with the best interest of the company in mind.
Goals are bigger than egos. They are bigger than individuals. They are bigger than acclaim. Goals are also treacherous. They can easily be displaced by artificial, personal goals that only get in the way of the success of the business. Keeping an eye on what really matters, and where you really want to go, can keep your goals in check. And this will help you grow your business — which is the ultimate goal.
Dart board Photo via Shutterstock