It might sound elementary, but our anecdotal evidence shows that companies actively setting big goals typically leads to business growth and sustainability.
Of course, ‘shooting for the stars’ often entails experiencing failure. I have encountered significant failure in my career, but even when I didn’t hit all of my objectives, keeping a “go big” mentality helped me get closer to where I wanted to be.
This concept has been very evident in the forming of my career path. It was a goal of mine to be a CEO. Fortunately or unfortunately, the jobs I had were not putting me on the right track; I suffered what I considered to be a failure on that front. However, it spurred me to launch Four Pillars Investors. I ultimately achieved my goal, but via a very different path than expected.
Shooting for the stars does not yield rapid, unsustainable growth. Instead, it means different levels of growth for various organizations. With goal-setting based on attainable yet aggressive growth metrics, leaders who shoot for the stars will see long-term results for their company.
Use Goal-Setting to Spark Sustainable Growth for Your Team
As a CEO, you have many important roles, but it is up to you to set the strategy and define culture. A goal-oriented team, coupled with an entrepreneurial mindset, allows you to shoot for the stars with the direction needed to grow and achieve your goals. Here are three strategies that we incorporate in our goal-setting processes to help us achieve our grand ambitions:
1. Collaborate with leadership to move people forward.
John Kotter, considered a foremost authority on corporate leadership and change, calls executive buy-in “critical to making any organizational change happen.”
Strategy is crucial to business growth and sustainability, and business leaders will fail without prioritizing it. An effective CEO works with their management team, company leadership, and everyone in between to achieve goals. This way, it is not just the CEO saying, “We are going to do this as a company, and you are going to be doing that.”
As a founder of Four Pillars, I certainly have personal goals for the organization. That said, during our annual goal-setting meetings, we want to involve the whole team so that each person feels like he or she plays an important part in the process.
2. Clearly articulate goals.
Perhaps you have only long-term goals, or maybe you have long- and short-term targets. Regardless of their loftiness, saying them out loud helps: According to research by the Dominican University of California, people who record their goals are 42% more likely to reach them.
To hold both your employees and yourself accountable, communicate your goals at the outset and communicate them frequently. Next, assign responsibilities and get buy-in from the assignees. For example, Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary reported that companies that reached their financial objectives did so with goal-setting strategies with specific quarterly objectives.
Relating this back to Four Pillars’ goal-setting meetings, our overarching goal for last year was hitting a specific revenue target. Though each team member is always working on multiple deals and setting acquisition targets would make sense, we thought that setting a revenue target was more meaningful because it allowed team members to see how their work on certain projects moved us toward achieving the company objective.
3. Make everyone accountable.
A study by Partners in Leadership found that 91% of respondents called the creation of accountability a top development need in the workplace. CEOs and lower-level team members must keep goal-setting top of mind so that big-picture objectives don’t fall through the cracks.
To drive progress and change in the company, look to internal teams and managers. Check in with them regularly and tie their efforts to long-term targets so you can keep them accountable. After all, organizational progress only goes as far as you (and your team) do.
At Four Pillars, we did this by creating a number of subtasks that supported the overall goal. We assigned one or more people to each subtask and then saved and distributed the task list. For employees, seeing their names attached to a task is motivating because it gives them a sense of ownership.
Goal-setting is a major motivator for employees because it enables people to meet objectives without micromanagement, according to a recent survey of U.S. marketing professionals. Involving employees in the goal-setting “can galvanize their commitment to achieving them,” Gallup research has found. Set goals as a team so that roles are voluntary and enthusiastically accepted; the combination of motivation and well-defined objectives can “solve a lack of accountability,” Gallup says.
Shooting for the stars requires stretch goals that might feel uncomfortable to some, yet clear goals and achievable growth metrics make it possible. By setting goals for you and your team deliberately, you put everyone on track to get to where they want to be.