Whilst the words ‘goal’ and ‘leadership’ are two words that sit together as comfortably as two peas in a pod, it can be challenging when asked what sort of goals leaders need to have in mind when they are going to achieve success.
Partly because the goals that leaders set can be of a bigger nature than those expected from managers and partly because leaders goals tend to be a more planning and strategic, it can be difficult to get the balance right.
The need for any leader to deliver results is inherent in the role they hold. It’s no good a leader in an organisation having the most brilliant ‘blue-sky’ thinking, if the business cannot be sustained and be financially healthy.
Leadership goals have to be a function of what’s vital for a range of stakeholders, from those wanting a relatively simple financial return, to those who have the security of employees top of mind. And there are a whole host of stakeholders sitting between those as well.
The best leaders are able to balance the returns that investors want in the short-term, with the capacity to ensure that the strategic goals for future growth and stability are acheived as well.
Often, key deliverables that meet shareholder expectations can be delegated down the line to managers whose role it is to achieve financial goals, which are typically driven by sales growth as well as operational efficiency and effectiveness. Whilst leaders are accountable for this, the responsibility can feed down the line.
What can be more challenging is trying to ensure that resources for short-term deliveables are balanced with investment needed for the future, when there may initially be little or no return. Indeed, operational losses from startup will need to be held up by the rest of the business delivering healthy – or even healthier – returns.
So, the key roles for leaders are ensuring that the goals they accept from those who measure their performance are both long and short-term, whilst ensuring that they as leader, focus on what they themselves are good at, whilst delivering the best returns from their people at the sharp end too.