Peter Drucker once stated that his mission was to help other people achieve their goals.
Helping people reach their big leadership goals is what I do. If I can help them develop their leadership, they can then achieve the personal and professional things they set out to do.
And at face value, it’s easy to reach your goals.
To do this, all you need are these three things.
- Define your goal
- Identify the steps and ways to get there
- Practice the self-control to work the plan
But a lot of leaders don’t reach the goals they set for themselves. Why? If the formula is so simple, where is the hitch?
To give some insight on this, I’d like to share some background about meeting objectives and reaching goals by reflecting on Peter Drucker. Drucker, a widely influential thought leader, has been described as the founder of modern management. I believe his work holds the key.
Drucker invented the concept of management by objectives and self-control, somewhat of a “household idea” in strategic planning today. He popularized this idea in his 1954 book, The Practice of Management.
Drucker maintained that in order to effectively reach objectives, these must first be defined by management and conveyed to other members of the organization. Then, it must be decided as to how to reach these objectives (strategies), and these strategies must then be broken down into sequential steps (tactics). The resulting outline or strategic action plan could then be used as a roadmap for those who had assigned responsibilities therein.
Drucker’s theory proposed to create an organized and positive work environment. As people worked the steps in the plan, they would be motivated by their achievements and spurred to continue on to the “finish line.”
Let’s translate all this into you as leader as you work on developing your own leadership.
Most of you reading this can easily identify the goals that are important to you. You can probably also outline the steps you need to take in order to reach your goals.
But you may not be reaching these.
A lack of self-control is usually the culprit in thwarted goals. This is when leaders often call an executive coach. They’ve read the books, attended the boot camps, and yet, little has changed. And they aren’t quite sure what to do about it.
If this is you, it’s easy to feel discouraged and fall back into old patterns. After all, good enough is good enough – right?
But quietly, you know that if you develop greater leadership, you’ll benefit not only yourself and those around you, but the entire organization.
If you are at this point, I challenge you to adopt the following four tools.
These will help you to develop more self-control to move past obstacles and on to success.
1. Begin in a corner to set yourself up for success.
Is your goal to be a better communicator? Identify two to three things that will help you to become one. And then, start with just one of those. Let’s say your three strategies to becoming a better communicator include being a better listener, asking more questions, and being clearer and more concise in your written communications. Attempting to shift to all three of these behaviors at once is too much and will discourage the best of us. Begin with the one that feels easiest or like the biggest win, and work on that for a few weeks before taking on the next shift.
2. Assume a can-do attitude in your language.
What are the things you say to yourself when you think about taking that next step toward goal? Does your language feel heavy, full of examples like, “I need to…” “I have to…” “I must…”? Try shifting this type of language to one that is more encouraging, such as, “I am looking forward to trying…” “It’s fun to think about experimenting with this…” Look for the negatives and turn these around. Your language reinforces attitude with feelings around the work you need to do to reach goal.
3. Keep the transformation in mind.
If being a better listener is your goal, the transformation might be that by being a better listener, others will respect you more, share more, feel recognized, etc. and this will help to motivate and engage them, resulting in greater outcomes. Identify this transformation and keeping it in front of you as a carrot is powerful to helping you stay the course.
4. Congratulate yourself for wins and points of learning.
One step at a time. Each time you move a little closer to your goal, congratulate yourself. Each time you recognize when you have taken a step back, look at this as a point of learning. Ask yourself what you will do differently next time to move forward. The brain needs this in order to flex where it needs to go next. Rome wasn’t built in a day – and neither has your leadership been developed overnight. Decide that it’s “brick by brick” and keep going.
As you contemplate 2019 and what you would like to see in your personal leadership, remember that this is a journey. By traveling in this way, you model this for others, providing encouragement and a sound way forward.
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Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive consulting, leadership development, succession planning, change management, and conflict resolution. She is also an experienced Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.