Based in Sydney, Australia, Foundry is a blog by Rebecca Thao. Her posts explore modern architecture through photos and quotes by influential architects, engineers, and artists.

How Leaders Can Create Great Goals


Goals have been on my mind lately. For my book project I'm currently working through the ideas behind effective team leadership have been on my mind. I created a survey on this subject about a year back as I was completing my masters degree. I found it overwhelming how important people thought shared goals where to team success. At this point in my leadership development this may be one of the few things I'm sure of: team leaders must create clear and unifying goals.

Over and over again people have stated that the success of teamwork is incredibly dependent on clearly defined purpose that unifies and clarifies. If all else fails, leaders must be sure to get this one correct. Without concrete vision our teams may run hard, but in varying directions. I'd like to take a brief look at what great goals look like, but first I think it's important to understand that creating unifying goals is an art. Too broad and we have no clarifying direction, which wastes extra capacity and creates dissonance  Too narrow and teams miss critical information, opportunties for innovation, or even cirtical points where a change of direction is desperately needed.

Goals can be a little dangerous if not set correctly. I've found there are three important factors that will assist us in setting great goals: an inquisitive cultue, a "big picture" vision, and a non-finito mindset.

An inquisitive culture is one that values asking questions, checking direction, and providing bottom-up feedback to leadership. This should never be mistaken for a culture where leadership is constantly questioned. It should be one where team members know that critical thinking and organized feedback are valued.

A"big picture" vision is very important to getting goals set properly. Goals should always align with vision. That is, leaders must always be able to explain why a particular goal will get people closer to the desired future.

We should take a non-finito appraoch to goal setting. Non-finito is an art term meaning "not complete" or "unfinished". For leaders, non-finito represents the idea that change happens very quickly and perfection will never be attained. A goal may be just right for today and completely wrong for tomorrow. Never hold goals too tightly.

Goals are cirtical to a teams success and it's been my experience that great leaders master the art of strategically crafting them. Have you found goals to be critical in team success as well?

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