New Year, New Leadership Goals: Setting Effective Leadership Resolutions for CEOs

Shocking absolutely no one, a Google search on “setting leadership goals” yields over 366 million results, presenting an endless array of frameworks, processes, and methodologies to help you achieve your goals.

Don’t get too caught up in choosing a template to follow. The truth is, it doesn’t really matter which framework you select—as long as you select one. Developing a structured plan is one of my keys to setting and accomplishing your goals in the new year, and I outline my best advice for setting goals below.

Keep It Simple

Way too many leaders and organizations overcomplicate their goals. They set too many goals, complex goals, or overlapping goals. If they’re not careful, they may even set contradictory goals. Overcomplicated goals can be difficult to track, measure, and achieve. The solution? Keep your goals simple!

Prioritization is the key to simple goals. Don’t set out to achieve too many goals; if you set 175 goals, you probably won’t reach any of them. Think about everything you want your organization to accomplish, and then focus your goals on the most important outcomes. As you prioritize your goals, be sure to recognize the difference between annual goals and quarterly goals, and plan accordingly. Simplicity is the number one strategy to follow.

Put It in Writing

Whether you’re helping a team member devise their individual goals, brainstorming department goals with a small group, or leading a company-wide strategy session, bring a pen. It’s been reported that people who write out their goals are 42 percent more likely to succeed than people who do not. In my experience, it’s even higher than that.

The act of writing down your goals impacts everything—your motivation, strategy, commitment, focus, and priorities. It takes your goals from abstract to concrete. Writing down your goals reinforces dedication and keeps you on track. It forces you to think critically about your goals and get specific about what exactly you want to accomplish.

After writing down your goals, the natural next step is to craft—and write down—a detailed plan to achieve each goal. Make sure each goal has an outline describing how it’s going to get done. What checkpoints do you need to reach along the way? By writing down not only your goals but also how you will go about achieving them, you create a roadmap for your whole team to follow.

Establish Accountability

As CEO, it’s easy to want to own every piece of every goal, but that’s just not realistic or productive. Every goal needs a single owner—not a group of people and likely not the CEO. Rather, the CEO needs to be able to rely on a single person to own the goal. That doesn’t mean the owner of the goal does all the work, but the owner is responsible for keeping the goal on track. They’re the person writing down the goal and developing a weekly, monthly, or quarterly plan explaining how to accomplish the goal. This type of accountability is crucial; it’s what allows companies to accomplish their goals.

To create accountability, everyone has to know who owns the goal. That person and their team are tasked with keeping the goal on track and ensuring that everyone is doing their part to move the goal forward. The goal owner also is responsible for monitoring changing circumstances, challenges, and opportunities along the way.

Keep Your Goals Relevant

One of the greatest lessons I learned during a London Business School executive education program last spring is about the CEO’s job when it comes to company goals. It’s a given that the CEO should regularly check in with the goal owner to confirm that the goal is on track. The most important question for the CEO to ask, however, is: What has changed since we set the goal that we need to address?

Say you set your goal on Jan. 2. Your team has to regularly consider world events, economic changes, and industry developments that have occurred since then. What happened on Jan. 3 that may affect the goal? There’s a host of things that can dictate radical changes to parts of your plan. I encourage CEOs to monitor how the strategy may need to adapt.

Set Your Corporate Goals for 2024

The end of one year and the start of another is a natural time for reflection and prioritization—and goal setting. Keep these best practices in mind as you set your corporate goals for 2024.

Questions to Consider

  1. What are your business goals for 2024?
  2. Have you assigned ownership to your business goals?
  3. How will you hold your team accountable?

Contact me if you’d like to discuss best practices for your business goals in 2024.