Leading others to success in four easy steps

Setting goals is an important personal skill to achieve and measure success. Teaching others to set goals is an important skill for successful leaders to master. Teaching people to set goals ensures their personal and organizations success. Unfortunately, too many people work for bosses who do not know how to set goals, let alone how to teach others to set goals. If you read and put into practice any of the suggestions from my earlier post, you know how to effectively set personal goals. Learning to teach others and helping them along the way is pretty easy when you follow these steps.

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Once you understand the process for setting goals and achieve a few goals you develop an appreciation for the importance of goal-setting. The process is pretty simple. First assess things you do well, things you can improve, and what you want to accomplish. Next, figure out where you are in life and where you want to be. Third, develop a plan to move closer to your desired end state. It does not have to be a perfect plan. By the time you develop a perfect plan it will be too late, so take your imperfect plan and adapt is as you move along the path to success. Written goals are more effective than those that are not written. Periodically check your progress. You will find that as you change, other things change too. That requires you to make adjustments to stay headed in the correct direction. That is also why perfect plans are rarely effective. This paragraph is intended to be a review. For more on setting personal goals see my earlier blog by clicking here.

You have to set and achieve a couple goals before you begin trying to teach others. If you are in a leadership position you probably have done that. Maybe you never thought about how you go about setting and achieving goals so you do not know how to teach others. That is the point of this post. It is only a little harder to teach others to set their own goals than it is to learn to do it yourself.

Start by sitting down with your employee or protegee and explain the goal setting process described above to them. Share a story of your personal success following the goal setting strategy to motivate them. Explain the SMART model Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals. Share your version of a Goal Setting Worksheet to document their goal. Click here for an example.

When you introduce the goal setting process, take time to explain each step briefly. You will demonstrate each step when you spend time helping him set his first written goal. It helps to have a set of directions even if you do have a tour guide for the first trip. It also communicates credibility.

When you explain SMART goals, explain each term. Help them understand the difference between a specific and non-specific goal statement. There is a difference between saying, “I want to loose weight.”, and, “I want to loose 25 pounds.” It seems obvious on the surface and when the two appear side-by-side. People who have not successfully set and achieved goals think they are the same. Explain different ways to measure success when you talk about a goal being measurable. In the weight example you could measure fat lose by using a scale or waist size. The simplest way I ever heard to explain attainable is to ask the other person if someone has previously done what they want to do. If someone else achieved it then that person can as well. Relevant goals can be relevant. Explain that a work place goal is relevant to the workplace. Personal goals are relevant to their life. Relevance is the “Why” of the goal. When discussing time-bound explain it prevents or reduces procrastination.

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Introduce your version of the Goal Setting Worksheet. I learned in the One-Minute Manager that a written goal should fit on one page, be less than 250 words, and reviewed in less than a minute to ensure people review it periodically. The worksheet becomes the map to achieve the goal. In my work, I found a simple set up makes writing down goals easy. Put the name of the goal at the top. Next list the person completing the goal, the start date, and the target completion date. If you have more than one employee, it helps to have their names on the worksheet when you follow up later with them. List the steps necessary to complete the goal. Identify some measurements of success and what the desired end state looks like.

Start to put everything together. Work with the employee to find a goal. Help them conduct her first assessment by asking questions that guild them to find out what they want to achieve. Questions should include answers that provide insight to the SMART elements. Work with them to write out the goal on the worksheet. If you are working on a workplace goal, you, as the leader, must agree the goal is worthy use of her work time. Once the goal is established and written up, make a copy for you. The employee keeps the original.

As part of the goal setting process establish when you will meet again to review the progress. I recommend daily or weekly for small, simple goals with inexperienced employees. Eventually employees will develop bigger goals. You need to meet less often to assess progress and success.

During the periodic review meeting ask for details about the progress of each task step. Inquire about problems he encountered and how they resolved those problems. Review the measurements to help them understand if he is doing what he set out to do. Before you finish the meeting, ask if he needs anything from you to continue. Find out what steps he will take between this meeting and the next. Wrap up by setting the next meeting date and praising his progress.

Learning to set and accomplish goals is an important growth steps for individuals. Learning to teach others how to set and achieve goals is an importation growth step for leaders. Leaders first have to understand the process used to set and achieve goals. You cannot teach what you do not know. When you sit down to teach someone how to set a goal, review the goal setting process of assessing what you want to achieve, identify where you are and where you want to go, develop a plan, establish measures of success, and evaluating and adjusting the plan periodically. Explain why goals are SMART. Introduce the Goal Setting Worksheet because written goals are more likely to be achieved. Take time to walk the employee through the process of setting a goal. Meet periodically to assess progress and provide support. Before long, your protegee will be teaching others how to succeed and you will be known as a successful leader.

Leading During a Crisis: Ensure Your Organization Survives COVID-19

Leadership is the most important thing right now for organizations. It doesn’t matter if you are a leader in a governmental organization, a non-profit, leading in the private sector, health care, or even a volunteer leader in a local club. Leadership during these rapidly changing times will be the difference between the organizations that thrive after COVID-19 runs its course and those that collapse during or shortly after things return to “normal”. 

The Corona Virus Pandemic is forcing leaders to rapidly implement changes in their organizations. Those who lead effective change will have advantages once the virus passes. Credit: Fusion Medical Animation from unsplash.com unsplash license 2020.

Change is inevitable. I have posted several blogs on leading change. Good leaders understand change is always happening and look to the future to ensure those they lead are ready when change happens. Most of the time that means change is gradual and like the hands on a clock, the changes are barely perceptible.  Sometimes, like the events surrounding the COVID-19 response, change is rapid and requires leaders to accelerate their leadership processes.

Joan Sweeney, Ph.D teaches there are five elements that need to be present for change to success fully happen. Those elements are vision, skills, motivation, resources, and plans (Sweeney, 2009). If any of these elements are missing effective change fails to happen. Whether you find yourself leading gradual change, rapid change, or in a crisis, you as a leader need to ensure each of these elements are in place to lead change.


Start by assessing the situation. A SWOT analysis is common method of assessing. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. There are plenty of documents, books, and websites discussing the subtleties of conducting SWOT analysis. If this is the first time you heard this term, head to your favorite search engine. I provide a short answer about what SWOT is here. Divide a sheet of paper into four quadrants.  Label each Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Individually or with your team identify each area. Ask the simple questions of, “What are our Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats?” Use these answers to work on the five elements of change.


Most leaders understand the need to have a vision. In times of crisis, the vision is not about the distant future. The vision is about the days, weeks, and months ahead. The vision shares with your stakeholders your view of how the organization navigates the turbulent waters of the crises, in this case getting through the COVID-19 Pandemic. This element is essential so examine your strengths and opportunities so others have hope.

Leaders ensure the organization has people with the necessary skills to implement change and the motivation to use those skills. Credit: Allie Smith from unsplash.com with an upnplash license 2020


Take a look at the skills you listed in your strengths. Determine how you can use them to address the threats posed by the situation to create opportunities. Include this assessment in your vision statement. Doing so provides hope which is the basis of motivation.


I learned on Jocko Podcast 207, that the root of the word motivation means to move (Willink, 2019). When you motivate others, you cause them to begin movement. To sustain movement, it is important for leaders to align resources with action plans. This alignment demonstrates to followers that the proposed action and change is both viable and attainable.


There is an old saying in the Army, “We the willing have done so much for so long we are now qualified to accomplish the impossible with nothing.” In times of crisis resources become scarce. If you have tried to by bathroom tissue or hand sanitizer in the last few days you know that is true in this current crisis. You may not be able to acquire the ideal resources is times of crisis so leaders need to be creative. What resources do you have that can be repurposed safely to accomplish the same thing? What resources can you obtain that come close to doing what you need done? What do you really need?

Leaders need to provide resources to implement change whether it is responding to Corona Virus or any other change in the organization. Photo by author.

In a TEDTalk in 2006, Tony Robbins encountered former Vice President Al Gore while discussing the importance of resourcefulness. He told the former VP that had he been more resourceful during the campaign he would not have needed to have his case heard by the Supreme Court. Rather he would have received an overwhelming number of votes to win the election without having to resort to a Supreme Court case. Leaders always have to figure out how to use the resources available to accomplish their organization’s mission.


Plans in crisis are important. Looking ahead and creating plans before crisis helps move that process along quicker. Even if you lack a plan for dealing with a pandemic, you probably have some emergency plans you can adapt. In the non-profit I run, we have plans to continue operations in the event of a disaster like the building burning down or other cataclysmic events. We did not have one for dealing with COVID-19. As the crisis escalated, I found it easy to re-examine our emergency plans and take relevant parts, piece them together to develop a plan that, so far, ensured we were available and able to continue to provide services to our clients.  Planning occurs rapidly in a crisis. Your plan must support your vision. You need to communicate so everyone remains motivated to apply their skills to overcome the crisis. The plan must include how to use existing resources and how you will find other resources necessary to survive the crisis.  Your plan does not have to be perfect.  Theodore Roosevelt said,

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The next best thing is the wrong thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.


In this current crisis, leadership is critical to meet the changes required for organizations to survive.  Leaders must ensure they communicate a vision, coordinate the skills of stake holders, provide motivation and resources, and create a plan that effectively coordinates the actions of the organization. Leaders everywhere are faced with important decisions during this pandemic. Following the basic principles of change management will ensure your organization prepares and responds effectively to this crisis and emerges ready for the future as things subside.


Robbins, T (2006). Why we do what we do. TED: Ideas Worth Spreading. retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/tony_robbins_why_we_do_what_we_do 3/18/2020

Roosevelt, T (n.d.). Unknown publication. retrieved from https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/theodore_roosevelt_403358 3/18/2020.

Sweeney, J. (2009). Organizational culture and change management. Command Training Series: Executive Development Course. Bristol, RI: New England Asc. of Chiefs of Police, Roger Williams University.

St. Cyr, C. (2019). Leading change. Little Leadership Lessons. Blog. available at https://saintcyrtraining.com/2019/07/

Willink, J (2019). Podcast 207: Live a life worth fighting For. Medal of honor recipient, Kyle Carpenter. Jocko Podcast. retrieved from https://jockopodcast.com/2019/12/11/207-live-a-life-worth-fighting-for-medal-of-honor-recipient-kyle-carpenter/ 3/18/2020.