GoalsYour thinking skills can be considered directional skills because they set the direction for your organization. They provide vision, purpose, and goal definition. These are you eyes to the future, allowing you to recognize the need for change, when to make it, how to implement it, and how to manage it. You find vision by reaching for any available reason to change, grow, and improve - find something that is not broken and make it better. Just as you perform preventive maintenance on your car, you must perform preventive maintenance on your organization. Do NOT believe in the old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," the people who do, go broke! Treat every project as a change effort. Treat every job as a new learning experience.

Good organizations convey a strong vision of where they will be in the future. As a leader, you have to get your people to trust you and be sold on your vision. Using the leadership tools described in this guide and being honest and fair in all you do will provide you with the ammo you need to gain their trust. To sell them on your vision, you need to possess energy and display a positive attitude that is contagious. People want a strong vision of where they are going. No one wants to be stuck in a dead-end company going nowhere...or a company headed in the wrong direction. They want to be involved with a winner! And your people are the ones who will get you to that goal. You cannot do it alone!

When setting goals, keep these points in mind:

There are four characteristics of goal setting:

The Six Steps of Goal Setting

Although finding a vision can be quite a creative challenge, the process of getting that vision implemented can be easier if you follow the steps of:

Vision - Goals - Objectives - Tasks - Time Lines - Follow Up

Step 1 - Define Your Vision
While mission statements guide the organization in its day-to-day operations, visions provide a sense of direction for the long term as they provide the means to the future.

Visions are the fist step in the goal setting and planning process. Kennedy's vision got us to the moon. Starbucks Coffee Company's vision of "2,000 stores by the year 2,000" guided it towards its long-term growth. Steve Jobs, of Apple fame, wanted a revolution in the way people process information. The Nordstrom family wanted to create an “experience” within their stores.

As a junior leader, such as a supervisor or manager, you will mainly be concerned with a department, section, or small group of people. While the senior leaders set the vision for the entire organization, you set the vision for your team. And that vision needs to support the organization's goals.

The mission of the organization is crucial in determining your vision. Your vision needs to coincide with the big picture. The term vision suggests a mental picture of what the future organization will look like. The concept also implies a later time horizon. This time horizon tends to be mid to long-term in nature, focusing on one to ten years in the future for visions affecting the entire organization. Your visions should be on much shorter time horizons, about one month months to a year.

Leaders articulate and define what has previously remained implicit or unsaid; then they invent images, metaphors, and models that provide a focus for new attention. By so doing, they consolidate or challenge prevailing wisdom. In short, an essential factor in leadership is the capacity to influence and organize meaning for the members of the organization. Managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right thing. The difference may be summarized as activities of vision and judgment — effectiveness verses activities of mastering routine — efficiency. - Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus in Leaders

Bennis and Nanus describe leaders as “creating dangerously” — they change the basic metabolism of the organization. In Thriving On Chaos, Tom Peters wrote that leaders “must create new worlds. And then destroy them; and then create anew.” What is interesting, is that Peters defines visions as aesthetic and moral — as well as strategically sound. Visions that are merely proclaimed, but not lived convincingly are nothing more than mockeries of the process. He further describes effective visions as:

Once you have your vision, it needs to be framed in general, un-measurable terms and communicated to your team. Your team then develops the ends (objectives), ways (concepts), and means (resources) to achieve the vision.

Step 2 - Set Goals
The second step involves establishing goals, with the active participation of the team. Goals are also stated in unmeasurable terms, but they are more focused. For example, "The organization must reduce transportation costs." This establishes the framework of your vision.

Vilfredo Pareto, a 19th century economist, theorized that most effects come from relatively few causes; that is, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the possible causes. For example, 20% of the inventory items in the supply chain of an organization accounts for 80% of the inventory value.

Many people fall into the time wasting trap of going after the 80% of items that only have a value of 20% of the total net worth. Your visions need to picture the 20% that will have the greatest effect on your organization. Although it is nice to have small victories now and then by going after part of that easy 80%, focus on the few things that will have the greatest impact...this is what a good leader does.

Step 3 - Objectives
Now you establish objectives, again with the active participation of your team. Definable objectives provide a way of measuring the evaluating movement toward vision achievement. This is the strategy of turning visions into reality. It is the crossover mechanism between your forecast of the future and the envisioned, desired future. Objectives are stated in precise, measurable terms such as "By the end of the quarter, the shipping department will use one parcel service for shipping items under 100 pounds and one motor carrier for shipping items over a hundred pounds." The aim is to get general ownership by the entire team.

Step 4 - Tasks
The fourth step is to determine tasks. Through tasks, objectives are accomplished. Tasks are concrete, measurable events that must occur. An example might be, "The transportation coordinator will obtain detailed shipping rates from at least 10 motor carriers."

Step 5 - Timeline
Now it is time to establish a priority for the tasks. Since time is precious and some tasks must be accomplished before another can begin, establishing priorities helps your team to determine the order in which the tasks must be accomplished and by what date. For example, "The shipping rates will be obtained by May 9."

Step 6 - Follow up
The final step is to follow up, measure, and check to see if the team is doing what is required. This kind of leader involvement validates that the stated priorities are worthy of action. For the leader it demonstrates her commitment to see the matter through to a successful conclusion.


U.S. Army Handbook (1973). Military Leadership.