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.

Inspire Others to Go Forth and do Good

ImageAs the hour draws to a close the speaker comments on what a great bunch your group has been. She was so concerned things would not go well because she was not sure what she had to offer would meet the needs of the rest of the team or that she had enough material for the 60 minutes she was allowed. She asks of there are any questions; there are none, and thanks you all for coming. You stand up hoping to sneak out of the room before your boss has an opportunity to corner you about the poor performance of your direct report during the monthly senior staff training, too late, he yells across the room to meet him in his office in five minutes. What went wrong?

Often employees or outside subject matter experts are asked to make presentations about hot topics. Powerful presentations are not guaranteed just because the presenter possesses expert or referent power and may deny the members of the organization the inspiration to do great things with what they have learned. Even when the person makes a great presentation, they may end up talking about everything except the one or two areas of concern for your organization. Taking the time to identify objectives of what you want participants to learn helps you and the presenter focus on material that will enlighten, educate and inspire. Steven Covey calls it beginning with the end in mind.

It may seem too simple to write out a comprehensive terminal learning objective. Doing so focuses the efforts of the trainer to only that information which will help the audience achieve the final educational goal. The end result is a focused presentation meeting the needs of the audience. Steven Covey covers this principal when he advises his readers to begin with the end in mind.

There are three important parts of every learning objective whether it is the capstone objective, or a smaller piece of the puzzle. The parts are action, condition and standard. The action is what you want the student to learn how to accomplish when they complete the training. An example might be something like, “The clerk will complete a telephonic customer order on the computer.” The conditions for the task or action to be completed should include the environment and any tools or resources available while completing the action. Often training is conducted in a classroom or conference style setting and that should be reflected in the condition statement. Finally spell out how someone will know when the student has achieved success by stating the standard. This can be performance steps, standards for a finished product, a score on an examination or any other means of measuring performance. Often in a classroom this may be as simple as, “The student will respond correctly to questions related to the action.”

This is a sample of a TLO for a classroom setting where there will be no formal testing.

Action: Complete a telephonic customer order on the computer.

Conditions: A classroom environment, a block of instruction and random questions from the instructor.

Standard: Correctly answer questions related to taking a customer order on the phone and entering the data into the computer.

Ideally action statements start with a verb. Conditions describe resources available to complete the action. Standards should be measurable and attainable, very much like setting SMART goals.

Establishing learning objectives when assigning someone to conduct training improves communication and enables the trainer to understand the perceived needs of organization. Given an objective such as the one above instead of some generic statement like, “Hey Smith, I need you to give a class on that new software at the next staff training conference next week.” With the first, employees should walk out of the training understanding how to take customer orders using the new software. Who knows what you will get with the second. When you are tasked to provide training, having an understanding of the process allows you to develop a TLO, run it by the person who assigned it and then help you focus your attention on what is necessary to meet expectations.

Developing training objectives help trainers focus on presenting important information in the time allowed for students to achieve a given task. When assigned, both the manager and the trainer have better expectations of what the finished product includes. Quality learning objectives contain three parts, the action, the conditions, and the standards. When assigned by your manager to train others using a learning goal ensures you and he understand what is expected of you. Don’t let your next presentation flop. Take the time to develop an objective for the time you are given to teach others.


Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. electronic edition. New York, NY: Rosetta Books, 2012.

Henry, V. E. (2002). The COMPSTAT paradigm: management accountability in policing, business, and the public sector. Flushing, NY: Looseleaf Law Publications.


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