Why Goals Are So Important for Leaders

I’m old enough to remember life before Facebook. I know it’s hard to imagine the world where you can’t catch up with friends you haven’t seen in years by simply searching for them or scrolling through your feed. And to participate in their life, you had to do more than simply press "like," share, or comment.

It hasn’t been that long since you had to call, write, or email someone to stay connected. One of the things I find interesting is how many college students and other millennials have a hard time distinguishing between reality and “Facebook reality.” There is, indeed, a difference. You can expect people will put their best foot forward on social media.

They are going to use the right photo filter, give you the highlight reel of their life, and carefully curate their never-ending wisdom. Why do they do this? To communicate to you they have it together, are someone you should admire, and secretly hope you want what they have just a little more than your own life.

But guess what? That “perfect life” isn’t quite so perfect. And putting something on Facebook doesn’t make it true. The same is true in other areas of life, too. Take leadership for example. Many people would consider themselves a leader, but not everyone who says they are a leader can provide the evidence to verify their claim.

TALK ISN’T ENOUGH

You must have the actions necessary to back up your claims. Otherwise, you have bought into your own PR, and that is a dangerous thing to do. Goals provide a built-in accountability system to ensure you align your decisions with your commitments.

If you want to become indispensable as a leader, then deliver on the goals you set out to accomplish. When push comes to shove, true leaders get the best opportunities. Why? It isn’t because they are necessarily the smartest, fastest, or most successful. They get the best opportunities because people recognize they have the drive and commitment necessary to carry the ball across the goal line

I hear a lot of people talk about leadership. Everyone seems to be an expert these days. You can find leadership advice just about everywhere. But like Facebook, just because someone says it’s true doesn’t make it true.

AUTHENTIC LEADERS GET RESULTS

As I’ve heard and said many times, “The proof is in the pudding.” What makes you a leader is not the location or size of your office, the nameplate on your door, the title on your business card, or your parking space at work. What makes you a leader is you know how to empower people and consistently deliver on key commitments and initiatives.

Goals are important to leaders because they provide the evidence necessary to build trust with those you want to lead. We’ve all worked for someone in a leadership role who just didn’t have it in them to direct a team toward a common goal. They’ve tried, but they never seemed to get the job done. Meeting and delivering on your goals will instantly set you apart and tell others you can, in fact, lead in a way that drives results.

In the end, results are what matters. You push, pull, climb, and fall all to have the chance to meet or exceed the goal that is in front of you. More important, your job as a leader is to deliver on that goal by empowering and equipping people to live up to the potential that is already within them.

The leaders you remember will be the ones who helped you accomplish things you didn’t think were possible. That didn’t happen by accident. Someone recognized the potential in you to do something significant, but that wasn’t just a personal growth exercise. That need was identified because a leader took a goal and broke it down into actionable steps. Then he or she looked across their teams and decided who was the most likely to complete the milestones and deliver on the outcomes necessary to accomplish the goal.

GOAL SEPARATE THE “WANT TO” FROM THE “CAN DO”

Most people say they want to accomplish big things in their life. They want to make a difference and create change in the world. I’m so inspired by the dreamers I encounter. Whether it’s with a group of pastors, college students, or entrepreneurs, it’s hard not to get inspired by what other people believe is possible.

At some point though, that dream must turn into an action plan. A great action plan has a series of goals associated with it. If you can meet those goals, then you have a shot at turning big dreams into reality. And that's what it takes to truly leave a legacy that matters. Hope can inspire, but actions get results.

You will build your reputation as a leader on the results you achieve. And the quality and size of those results are in direct correlation with the quality and size of your goals. People who accomplish big things in life didn't do so by accident. It was intentional because they decided to be disciplined about setting goals, and they held themselves to meeting those goals.

Leaders are predisposed to a goal-oriented life. It’s in their DNA and is the fuel that will propel them from now to next. It isn’t easy, but it isn’t rocket science either. You simply have to want to achieve your goal more than maintaining your sense of comfort.

In the end, it all boils down to how committed you are to what you say you want to accomplish. Be fearless and relentless in your pursuit of the things which matter most to you. If you do, you'll find a way to set and meet big goals that will result in a life of significance, meaning, and success.

CHALLENGE: Are you the leader you believe yourself to be? What goals have you set and delivered on that you can point to as evidence to support your claim? Be someone who does what they say they will do. It will transform your leadership and the people around you.