Achieving Your Leadership Goals: From Amateur to Pro

As we reach the half way point of 2017, it’s only natural to look back to the start of the year and reflect on the leadership goals that you set for yourself at the beginning of the year. If upon reflection you find that like most people you're struggling with your goals you have two options:

  1. Shrink your (goal related) expectations - Setting audacious stretch goals is a great way for us to push ourselves to new levels of performance, but sometimes we can set the bar too high, and in such cases, it can be prudent to reframe our goals. Assuming however that settling for less is out of the question, there's only one thing left to do to get our goals back on track....
  2. Shrink your vie of (goal related) behaviors - Shrinking our view of goal related behaviors into smaller more manageable “chunks” is the real secret to goal mastery. Goal setting amateurs tend to focus on “outcomes” (goal success, or goal failure), while goal setting pro's focus on improving the micro-behaviors involved in the goal achievement process, letting the outcomes take care of themselves. Goal setting pro’s come out on top because on a leadership improvement journey knowing the outcome (overall success /or overall failure) is far less instructive than knowing why the outcome occurred.


Really Achieving Your Goals: The Devil Is In The Detail

Think about two golfers standing at the tee to take their shot, one an amateur and the other a pro. Each golfer hits their ball - the pro’s ends up in the middle of the fairway, the amateur’s in the rough. There was only a fraction of a millimeter between where the pro’s club impacted her ball and the amateur’s club impacted his ball - why was there such a difference in result when they both have the same desire to win?

The difference in the outcome for the pro and the amateur is due to the way that they view their goal related behavior. The amateur views their behavior as a whole - a “good” or “bad” shot. The pro on the other hand is a lot more granular in how they look at the behavior that they contribute to achieving their goals. Regardless of outcome, a shot is made up of many micro behaviors or “chunks” (e.g., stance, grip, backswing, angle of contact, and follow through). By breaking the larger behavior down into smaller chunks the pro is able to assess their performance by identifying where the behavior is breaking down (less effective) and take corrective steps along the way - First, pro’s perfect their stance through meticulous intentional practice, once their stance is satisfactory they move on to the next link in the behavior chain (e.g., grip etc.) until the behaver is fully complete.

The difference between where the pro and amateur strikes the ball can be as little as a fraction of a millimeter, but it is the way that the pro goes about their task that ensures that they hit the mark every time.

Bringing it Together: Achieve Your Leadership Goals Like A Pro

To take a pro's approach to improving your leadership behaviors:

  1. Break your leadership goal into more manageable (and assessable) micro behaviors. For example, delivering a speech can be broken up into a large number of micro behaviors (Introduction, body language, verbal’s, use of space in the room, and the delivery of key messages to name but a few).
  2. Assess your effectiveness in each of the micro behaviors to identify the weak links in the overall behavior chain. Debrief and feedback from colleagues or professional coaches is especially useful here as people are notoriously bad at judging how effective their own behavior is (with a general tendency to overestimate effectiveness).
  3. Practice the micro behaviors with intention. Just like our tendency to overestimate our own ability, we tend to underestimate how hard it is to get better at “soft skills” like leadership. Repeated deliberate daily practice is the order of the day for continual improvement.

Watching a pro in action can be intimidating, but remember success is just a fraction of a millimeter away. If you approach your goals like a pro, putting process over product will ensure that you hit the mark consistently.


Are you stuck with your Leadership goals? HR Business Direction’s Leadership Coaches can assist you to fulfil your Leadership potential.


Alistair Kerr, MPsychOrg; PostGradDip Psych; BPsych

Organisaitonal Development Strategist | Psychologist

07 3890 2066

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