Leadership Practices: Setting Goals

SUMMARY:  (6 min read) Our team has created three strategic objectives for 2021 to support your workplace. The following article is about a leadership practice for how to set goals based on our observations.

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And for leaders, everything in the workplace is about change.  

Story From The Road

I recently read a story that a leader was trying to implement some new procedures for his department.  Some were on board.  Others were good either way.  And some were fighting him every step of the way.  The story goes on to say that he couldn’t understand why, after he had explained the benefits of the changes, some associates were pushing back.  

After being asked to observe from the balcony (take a step back), he realized that, for the most part, those who were accepting the new changes were newer to the department and those fighting the policy changes had been with the company for years.  It was only one observation.  

More observing needed to be made so he went to the “balcony” again.  The department as a whole wasn’t kept accountable in times past.  He interpreted this symptom as a reason for why some were pushing back.  One member said, “why change things when the way we’ve been doing them has worked for us”.  The manager went back to his office after hearing this feedback, put his hands in his face, and released a slow sigh.  But he didn’t give up there….

The last observation he made was that he was new to the department and was still establishing a relationship of trust and rapport with the members.  

He told the team, “I understand that I’m making some policy changes that are different.  Why change things if they’ve worked in the past, right?  I’m coming in new to the company and some have been here for two decades.  I respect what this team has done.  I’d like to see our department break records this year.  That might require all of us to make some changes we’re not too comfortable with at first.  But I promise to listen as we move towards our new goals.”

Discovering The Real Goals

Goals are intrinsically about change and transformation.  As leaders, we set up goals because we have a vision for what can be.  The challenging task is working with others to achieve the stated goals.  While I don’t like pithy “bumper sticker” statements, it is true that TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK- but not when a leader isn’t observing and listening to their team.

Before you start to set goals for the year, it might be a good idea for you to slow down.   Here are some practical steps of what it looks like to be a “listening leader”:  

Figure 1: Leadership Adaptive Models (see worksheet for more details)

Leaders Look and Listen

The work of the leader is to listen.  A professor at my school starts his leadership course by writing on the whiteboard, “Leadership begins in listening”.  Pay attention to the longings and losses to those we’ve been entrusted to care for. 

“Listening turns the attention of a leader to other people’s pain points instead of our own institutional survival or grand projects. Listening helps us focus our energy, build momentum, and strive to make a genuine difference.

Tod Bolsinger, Leadership for a Time of Pandemic

We look forward to having more coaching conversations with leaders this year that lead to a clarity of GOAL setting with the use of adaptive leadership skills.  

SquarePatch Objectives 2021

This year, our chaplaincy team has three strategic objectives birthed from what we observe in the workplace during the pandemic:

  1. Coaching conversations with leaders that lead to practices that directly impact their leadership and performance.
  2. Create practices that help workers and the workplace have more purpose, meaning, and joy.
  3. Deepen the quality of our care with employees that directly impacts their personhood and performance.

These objectives came out of a time of observing and listening to the losses and longings employees and leaders have shared with us.  They will function as a means to see transformation in lives as well as the workplace.  We want to impact both the person and their performance at work, believing that the personal and professional are somehow tied together.

Under each objective, we’ve outlined some actionable items and themes we’d like to focus on with leaders…again based on what we observe and hear from the worker and and the workplace system.  

We believe the workplace deserves purpose, meaning, and joy by nurturing a humanizing environment through care, coaching, and counseling.