Setting Goals and Mapping a Vision for Success

The ability to have a vision and build a strategy to move into the vision is one of the core necessities of leadership. I am often asked if this can be taught or is it born. As it turns out, it is neither. It is a commitment to step out of the day-to-day and look objectively with new eyes at the world around you. Setting goals to achieve a strategic vision is an ability that builds strong, vibrant leaders and organizations.

For leaders who spend time gaining new experiences, trying new hobbies, learning new concepts and skills outside of their daily routine, and practice putting themselves in the shoes of others … strategy is easy and fun. These leaders provide bold and strong growth.

For leaders who tend to stay with like-minded people, are surrounded by people who do not question or explore their thinking, or only expose them to information that keeps them comfortable … strategy is more a tactical exercise of planning vs large thinking which expands themselves and others to new possibilities. These leaders provide incremental growth with blips in either direction.

So how do you put yourself in the first group rather than the second? Work on developing your skills in these areas:

Embrace Visionary Thinking

  • Visionary leaders are systems-oriented, looking not just at the issue at hand but the system in which it was created. It becomes easier to set goals when the systems in place support success.
  • Develop your abilities around holistic thinking. I tell my clients to use the helicopter view to step back and find the big picture. Vision is set with the whole situation in view, it won’t be effective if you focus on just a few details.
  • Think futuristically. Think about how your goals and solutions are building toward the future or how they will work down the line.
  • Once the vision is set, a successful leader can communicate it well.

Be Creative

  • Unlock your creativity and open up more potential for success by tapping into your emotional drivers.
  • Embrace innovation and the creativity needed to reach that point.
  • Listen to your intuition. If you’re not sure where to start, try out these exercises to turn awareness into action.
  • Cultivate your understanding of the insight process. Look for ‘Eureka’ and ‘Aha!’ moments.

Find Your Competitive Edge

  • Have the desire and guts to outwit, outsmart, and out-run the competition.
  • Know your industry. You have to be informed on the current conditions if you want to see around the corner and anticipate what might happen next.
  • If you’re not already an expert in your area of specialization, become one. This skill is critical to setting realistic goals as it shapes the abilities of you and your team to operate in your chosen space.
  • Make sure you know your financial position and risk management strategies.

Keep an Open, Yet Focused Mindset

Environmental Awareness and Curiosity

“The learned is happy nature to explore, the fool is happy that he knows no more.” Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man, Epistle 2

If you are looking to create a strategic thinking leadership team, start with these questions:

  • What would a strategic conversation look like for my team?
  • How often do I spend learning and growing beyond my own sphere of understanding?
  • Do I really want to have strategic conversations with my circles of influence?
  • Given the definitions above on strategy, how much time do I currently spend thinking like a true strategist?
  • What action would I take today which would move me and my team forward as a powerhouse of strategic thinkers and leaders of execution?

“In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell.” –  Jack Welch in Winning, 2005