Goals motivate you, and help align your organization.  Sharing them with others can serve to get you going, but also get you stuck. Goals can even get in the way.  So read and think how yours work for you!   
Sometimes we get clues from our environment that we need a new goal, as in this 2012 Super Bowl Commercial:
«The Dog Strikes Back» VW TV spot
"Discovering a new goal"
Then again, sometimes we know exactly where we want to go and we just need to figure out how to get there:
funny babie reaching his GOAL
"Finding a path to your goal"

Typically goal models focus on the goal itself - set SMART goals, for example  (see right column).  However, those are the cognitive or rational elements of setting the goal.  So how do you elicit the behaviors necessary to reach the goal?

Try out this AIM model, devised by Elliot Berkman, a cognitive social scientist working with leaders.  If you think of goals as a process or journey rather than an endpoint, here are the three stages:

A:  ANTECEDENTS:  Advance planning 
1.  Make your goal "sticky" - easy to remember, linked to something in the current environment (YUM is easier to remember than YMU)
2.  Express goals in terms that motivate - though fear  or avoidance goals are frequently used (urgency), approach goals or feel good goals tend to be more motivational, especially if  you want creative, innovative behavior rather than mechanical production.
3.  Create the social context - we support and are more connected to goals when we feel among friends or suppportive colleagues than strangers, so build in opportunities to connect and create community 

I:  INTEGRATION:  Where the rubber meets the road
In translating the goal into actions and behaviors think about goals in terms of systems. 
Explain the fit - how your new goal aligns with existing goal and projects
Help people understand why.
Help people understand how.
Clearly connect why and how for everyone.

M:  MAINTENANCE:  Keeping momentum
Create a reward program that includes small victories? 
Provide a set of cues to stimulate the desired behavior or eliminate the undesired behavior (see the Broken Window theory at right).
Ensure that the cues, behaviors, and rewards are well linked so that you its easy to create automaticity.
Interesting research shows that the pleasure you get from telling people about your new goal can actually diminish your likelihood of achieving it.  Your brain thinks it's pretty much done!  So share the work your going to do, not how great it will feel when you've achieved your goal.  Watch Derek Sivers 3 minutes TED talk on the subject. 
The trouble with getting too fixed on the prize

In This Issue
The Awareness Paradigm
"Nancy Hardaway has succeeded in translating decades of leadership and consulting experience into an engaging book that veers off the path followed by others who have written about similar topics.... Instead, she writes about leadership and team performance success by crafting a story about five main characters that embark on a 48 chapter "adventure" in search of a multimillion-dollar grant that will be used to revitalize a small town. ... This book was written for managers, team and group leaders, coaches, and organizational consultants."

Jon Frew, PhD

Read the whole review.


Available in paperback or e-book:  Amazon or on sale here $14.99 free shipping: undefined
S:  Specific
M:  Measurable
A:  Achievable
R:  Realistic
T:  Time bound
For more:  Click here
"Broken Windows Theory" of cues
The theory is we respond to small cues in our environment such as graffiti and broken windows as norm setting. If efforts are taken to create positive cues like fixed windows and clean subway cars, and small crimes aren't tolerated, the rate of more serious crimes will diminish. This theory is described in Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point
For more:  Click here
Entrepreneurial Style
of Goal Setting
Saras Sarasvathy, professor at Darden researched the goal driven behavior of successful serial entrepreneurs in their strategies for setting goals.   She gave them a fictionalized company and asked what they'd do with it.  They didn't propose creating detailed business plans.  They all wanted flexibility - the chance to zig or zag depending on market conditions and resources.  She called it Effectuation.
Read more:  Click here

Interesting and diverse evidence from Mt. Everest climbers and entrepreneurs tells us we should hold our goals lightly.  While goals can create focus, motivation, and alignment, they can also get us in trouble. When I'm lax in setting goals, I like to think this evidence supports my behavior.


Christopher Kayes was on Mr. Everest the year that there were a shocking number of deaths because climbers refused to turn back when nearing the top, despite being well beyond the safe turn-back time of day.  He was so impacted by the losses that he made it his life work to explore what happened - they were too focused on their goals.  He applies the same analysis to companies who refuse to cut their losses and jettison an unsuccessful product or project because of the level of commitment to the goal.


I have a friend that is very goal oriented in her personal and business life.  In both cases, year after year, she sets five year goals in a variety of categories, including financial, professional development, health, family, etc.  Each year she accomplishes much and at the beginning of the next year, resets her goals.  As a cook, she's more the type to pick a recipe, go to the store and buy the ingredients, and come home and create the recipe - accomplishing her goal.


I tend to be more of an opportunist - seeing what the possibilities are and making the most of them.  Years ago, when I used to cook, I'd just open the refrigerator and use what I found to make dinner.  In business and my personal life I'm the same way.  I scan my environment and pick a general direction and then advance boldly, viewing it all as a sort of adventure (as opposed to a trip with a fixed destination.)


So what happens when we formalize and hold tight to goals? Circumstances change, and goals can blind us - causing us to charge ahead in spite of danger (having already committed so much), or miss an important new opportunity that might take us in a new direction.


One advantage to the loose goal setting style is that it is a little less intimidating, because you see the points along the way rather than only the end points.  For new entrepreneurs, for example, thinking about how they want their business to be in five years may be too much of a stretch, but finding new markets and getting their product out the door may seem more possible.  


And finally, the ability to accomplish goals is often dependent on your team.  Sometimes you need to go out and get the talent and skills for the goals you've set.  But other times you can look toward new goals because of the unique talents and skills you've got on your team.


In any case, as this year rolls out, give some new thinking to your goals - keep them clear enough to provide focus and alignment, but flexible enough so your people can be a little opportunistic!                       

Listening 2 Leaders  info@listening2leaders.com  
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