Over the past few weeks, I have thrown myself into the goal setting literature. My goal in this quest was to find something pithy and interesting to spur you on as you set your 2016 goals. I wanted to share with you something that you might not read anywhere else, such as:
- How to envision your goals and make them SMART.
- How to set up accountability for successful goal achievement.
- How to celebrate goal achievement, or correct your course if you are falling short on a goal.
Alas, while you can find lots of support in the leadership literature for all of the above, each time I began to write something I felt it had already been written. I was a bit discouraged about what I was going to share with you on this subject.
However, this morning I was reading an article in the WallStreet Journal by Ben Summers who teaches at West Point. Ben was illustrating his point using the example of how the United States treats enemy combatants who are captured. He compared this strategy to how, throughout history, our enemies have treated us.
In the article, he states, “Character is often measured in how we react when our values are most tested." (Summers, Ben. December 29, 2015. WallStreet Journal electronic version.)
It hit me. Perhaps it is not what we write as a goal, but how we implement it as a leader that matters. This is so true of every leader, regardless of organizational role. It is true for:
- The CEO and the mail clerk in an organization
- The pastor and the janitor in a church
- The Vice President of Sales and the Manager of Operations
- The university president and the adjunct professor
- The store manager and the night security
We will all set some sort of goal in 2016. Even if we don’t write them down (which the literature says you should do), we will be thinking of what we want to accomplish this year.
Could it be that more important than the commitments we make is the character we show in implementing our goals? It is not only the what we are doing, but how we are accomplishing our goals that matters.
This morning I was doing some meditation. When I meditate, I will often use the Bible as a source of inspiration. I was reading from Psalm 15, the first 5 verses. In this reflection, the writer of these verses gives an interesting list of character traits for leaders to measure themselves against. Traits such as:
- Integrity: Do what is right and speak the truth.
- Loyalty: Treat others with respect and fairness.
- Self-awareness: Hold fast to what is right; Be willing to admit wrong and make changes.
How Will You Implement
What an interesting list of character traits for us to compare ourselves to in 2016!
By now, many of you have already set some goals and some stretch goals. Good for you! The question is, will you implement them with integrity?
Will you implement them without talking poorly of someone else to make yourself look good? Will you implement them with self-awareness, even if you have to say you were wrong? Will you implement your goals while not sacrificing what you know is the right thing to do? Can you muster the courage to speak the truth even when it goes against popular consensus?
Perhaps as we review goals with our supervisors and accountability partners in 2016, we can talk not only about “the what" we hope to accomplish, but also “the how” we will go about it.
My hope for you as a leader is that you will set some really outstanding goals for 2016 and that you will implement them with character, principle, and integrity!
Here is a challenge for you! What if when you die, you face God. And God is not as interested in “what" you did on earth but “how" you did it? Would you do anything differently in your strategy for implementing your 2016 goals?
Homework: Spend some time reviewing your 2016 goals and considering "how" you will accomplish them. Write them down if you have not already done so. Share your ideas with a friend or colleague and ask them to hold you accountable to implementing your goals with character, principle, and integrity this year.
If you take the homework challenge this week, or even sometime this month as you are starting your year, I would love to hear from you. Drop a comment below or send me an email and let me know!