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With leadership comes a wide range of responsibilities, from making a commitment to your team to being a role model to those who are looking to you for direction. Being a leader is not just being a boss. Effective leadership can fuel an organization’s success by boosting employee morale as your group is working toward a common goal.
Setting leadership SMART goals will not only help ensure your success, but also the success of your team. Having leadership goals will help you improve your quality of leadership, which will in turn improve your team’s quality of work and ultimate outcomes.
Having leadership SMART goals is a critical step to staying focused and giving your team an example to follow. Leadership SMART goals are relevant across all industries, as leaders all share some key personal characteristics.
So in this article, we are going to look at 15 leadership SMART goals that you can modify to fit into your professional life as you see fit. But first, we will do a quick review of SMART goals and the importance of using this goal-setting method in your professional life.
What Is a SMART Goal?
The SMART goal methodology turns your otherwise ambiguous goals into a specific plan to follow to ensure you’re making measurable progress toward your larger objectives. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound, which are the criteria that your goal statements should meet in order to use this tool effectively.
This approach to setting goals will help you create a plan to make your visions become a reality that consists of action steps that are realistic to complete, making your final goals realistic to complete as well.
Let’s break down each component of a SMART goal:
So what makes these components of setting goals so critical to creating a successful leader? Let’s take a look.
Why Should You Set Leadership SMART Goals?
Good leaders possess a wide range of desirable traits. They have good business communication skills, great interpersonal skills, they manage their time effectively, and they’re able to prioritize their work. But, with so many proficiencies of an effective leader, there is always room for improvement in one area or another.
Having leadership SMART goals will ensure that both you and your team flourish by meeting your objectives and feeling accomplished in your individual roles. You can build momentum by encouraging each other along the way and celebrating milestones as you pass them by.
Your leadership SMART goals will help you stay organized and avoid joining the 38%-50%+ of leaders who fail within their first 18 months of leadership. Your leadership SMART goals will help both you and your team be successful, as they’re designed to encourage a mutual understanding of your expectations. Additionally, your goals will allow you to meet the expectations of your company.
Let’s look at some examples.
15 Leadership SMART Goals Examples for Your Workplace
1. Show Enouragement
“By the end of the quarter, I will have instilled inspiration into every member of my team through positive coaching and feedback. This will be evidenced by each team member offering at least one unique idea during the quarter that the team can implement to improve our work.”
S: This statement shows the leader will use encouragement to boost inspiration among team members.
M: This goal will be measured through the number of unique ideas each team member comes up with throughout the quarter.
A: This is an achievable goal, as many teams can often use some extra inspiration to stay motivated.
R: All leaders need to keep their team members inspired and motivated to do their best work.
T: The deadline for this goal is the end of the quarter.
(For your personal inspiration, here's a list of our favorite songs about leadership.)
2. Offer Small Rewards
“Increase the team’s productivity by offering small rewards for 100% of the team’s work being completed on time. This will be measured by a 20% reduction in average time for project completion by the end of January.”
S: This leader wants to increase the productivity of her team by offering incentives for the team to turn their work in on time.
M: This goal will be measured by a reduction of the average time it takes for the team to complete a project.
A: This is an achievable goal and it encourages team members to stay focused on the task at hand.
R: Increasing productivity equals an increase in work output and therefore an increase in revenue, which makes this goal relevant for all leaders.
T: The deadline for this goal is the end of January.
3. Schedule Team-Building Exercises
“I will increase employee morale by 25% by the end of the second quarter by scheduling monthly team-building exercises. The increase in morale will be measured through employee satisfaction surveys completed at the end of Q2.”
S: This leader wants to increase employee morale by engaging in team-building exercises.
M: This goal will be measured through employee satisfaction surveys at the end of the second quarter.
A: This is an achievable goal that all good leaders should focus on.
R: Increasing employee morale will increase productivity and reduce employee turnover.
T: The deadline for this goal is the end of the second quarter.
4. Set Weekly Milestones
“I will increase net revenue by 27% by September 1 in order to become the highest achieving sales team in our region. I will do this by creating weekly milestones for the team to accomplish and communicating our progress to the team during our Wednesday morning meetings.”
S: This leader wants to increase net revenue by 27% in order to become the #1 team in the region.
M: This goal will be measured through the amount of revenue that the team brings in each week when compared to the same week during the previous year.
A: With the right tools in place, this is an achievable goal.
R: Increasing net revenue will help this sales team get recognized for their efforts.
T: The deadline for this goal is September 1.
5. Open More Branches
“I will open two additional branches of my business within the next three years. I will do this by creating a business plan, evaluating the market, securing cash flow, and preparing marketing campaigns.”
S: This leader wants to expand their business by opening two additional branches.
M: This goal is measured through the opening of each additional branch within the given timeframe.
A: This is an achievable goal if the business has generated enough capital to expand.
R: Most businesses want to grow and thrive in their industry, which often requires expansion.
T: The deadline for this goal is within the next three years.
6. Coach Team Members
“I will improve my leadership skills by coaching team members to be able to problem-solve technical issues independently. This will occur on an ongoing basis with employee turnover. It will be evidenced by a reduction in employee inquiries regarding technology and self-reports of technological understanding from employees.”
S: This leader wants to teach employees to be self-sufficient when it comes to technology.
M: This goal is measured through a reduction in questions from the team regarding technology and self-reports confirming team members understand the technology.
A: This is an achievable goal.
R: Great leaders share their wisdom with their followers to ensure everyone’s success, so this is a relevant goal.
T: This process goal is ongoing, with the leader continuing to teach each new hire how to be self-sufficient with technology.
7. Set Goals for Structured Improvement
“I will work with my team to set three goals for structured improvements each quarter to ensure that we are focusing on continuous improvement and never settling for mediocre.”
S: This leader wants to meet with his team each quarter to create goals related to making gradual improvements.
M: This goal is measured by creating three goals per quarter.
A: This is an achievable goal for any group that wants to stay competitive.
R: This is a relevant goal, as businesses are always looking to improve or be better than their competitors.
T: The deadline for this ongoing goal is the end of every quarter.
8. Use Active Listening
“I will use active listening to demonstrate to my team that I value what they have to say during every team meeting. I will do this by keeping my smartphone away while I’m having a conversation, asking open-ended questions, and maintaining open body language.”
S: This leader will make a specific effort to use active listening skills to demonstrate to his team that he values their opinions.
M: This goal is measured by practicing the three listed objectives during every team meeting.
A: This is an achievable goal for all leaders.
R: This is a relevant goal because members of a team are not going to stick around if they feel like they don’t matter.
T: This is an ongoing goal that will be addressed during every team meeting.
9. Build Internal Talent
“I will build internal talent in order to have resources readily available as business needs change. I will do this by maintaining and cultivating my team’s skills by ensuring each employee completes four professional development seminars or projects as they see fit each year. This will prepare the team to be ready to accept more responsibility as needs arise.”
S: This leader will create a more multi-dimensional team by requiring employees to work on their professional development throughout the year. Because he is allowing employees to do this as they see fit, employees will be able to focus on their own strengths and interests, which will maintain a diverse team.
M: This goal is measured by each employee completing four professional development seminars or projects per year.
A: This is an achievable goal.
R: This is a relevant goal, as all businesses want to stay ahead of the curve and continuously develop their talent.
T: This is an ongoing goal that will be addressed at the end of every year.
10. Improve Systems for Knowledge Sharing
“By the end of March, I will have developed an improved system for knowledge sharing by setting up a process that allows for employees’ skills and experiences to be communicated to others in a timely manner.”
S: This leader wants to allow for better employee collaboration by creating a platform for all team members to share unique experiences and knowledge with each other.
M: This goal is measured by the completion of this project by the end of March.
A: This is an achievable goal.
R: This is a relevant goal because it will increase employee engagement and help employees spread their knowledge to their teammates.
T: This goal is to be completed by the end of March.
11. Reduce Ambiguity in Job Expectations
“I will clearly define the competencies of each position that I lead within the next six weeks so I can better define success and failure in each role. I will go over these competencies with the designated employee so they know what is expected of them.”
S: This leader will determine what defines success and failure in each role to reduce ambiguity in job expectations.
M: This goal is measured by a list of competencies being created for each role within six weeks.
A: This is an achievable goal.
R: This is a relevant goal because employees need to know exactly what is expected of them in order to be successful.
T: This goal’s deadline is in six weeks.
12. Show Up Early to Virtual Meetings
“I will show up five minutes early to all virtual meetings in order to maintain a sense of normalcy while doing remote work. This will help me maintain rapport with my team.”
S: This leader wants to stay in touch with the team beyond professional matters to maintain human connection.
M: This goal is measured by showing up five minutes early to each virtual team meeting.
A: This is an achievable goal as long as it’s prioritized.
R: This is a relevant goal because company culture is a vital part of employee satisfaction.
T: This is an ongoing goal that will occur before every virtual team meeting.
13. Seek Feedback from Team
“I will seek feedback from my team every quarter to find out the top three things I can do to better support them as a leader.”
S: Strong leaders recognize that they can benefit from constructive criticism as much as anyone else can, and who to better offer that insight than the people who are being led? This leader will seek out potential areas for improvement from the team.
M: This goal is measured by having three things to work on every quarter.
A: This is an achievable goal.
R: This is a relevant goal because good leaders can look at their strengths and weaknesses objectively and make improvements accordingly.
T: This is an ongoing goal that will occur every quarter.
14. Improve Employee Retention
“I will improve employee retention rates by 30% this calendar year by offering workers flexibility, keeping benefits current, and rewarding employees for their efforts.”
S: This leader wants to maintain their team as much as possible by compensating each member fairly and ensuring they feel valued.
M: This goal will be measured through a 30% increase in employee retention rate.
A: This is an achievable goal, especially if the leader can identify and address sources of employee dissatisfaction.
R: Improving employee retention will reduce money spent on finding and training new employees. Also, a high retention rate means your team is happy.
T: The deadline for this goal is the end of the calendar year.
15. Reflect on Lessons from Failures
“I will embrace and accept both my and my team’s failures without passing them off or blaming others. Each week, I will reflect on lessons that can be taken away from mistakes that have been made and set aside some time during our weekly meeting to mention the situation and the lesson so my team can also learn to embrace failure as being an opportunity to learn.”
S: This leader wants to take personality responsibility and learn from mistakes rather than blame the team.
M: This goal is measured by going over mistakes and subsequent lessons at each team meeting.
A: This is an achievable goal.
R: This is a relevant goal because setting a strong example to learn from one’s mistakes will set the team up for success.
T: This is an ongoing goal that will be addressed during each team meeting.
Final Thoughts on Leadership SMART Goals
Having leadership goals is important because they can help you prioritize and become a more effective leader. Creating SMART goals can help you make sure you’re meeting the company’s expectations in your role and equip you to cultivate growth within your team.
Goal-oriented leaders know what direction their team is headed and are able to reflect on their own work as well. (Know the difference between being a task- and goal-oriented person.)
Create leadership SMART goals such as these that will help you refine your leadership skills and be a positive role model for your team. Ask yourself: Do you want to be a transactional or a transformational leader? Adjust a few of these goals to fit in with your industry to show your team that if they’re intentional with their goals, they will be able to achieve more in their careers.
If you're looking for SMART goals for your employees, here are some employee goal examples. To make things easier, check out our collection of SMART goal templates to help you get started.
And if you want more SMART goal ideas and examples, be sure to check out these blog posts:
- 5 SMART Goals Examples to Improve Workplace Teamwork
- 13 SMART Goals Examples for Improving Your Communication Skills
- 6 SMART Goals Examples for Nonprofit Organizations
Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.
Connie Mathers is a professional editor and freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her daughter and two dogs, running, or working at her full-time job as a social worker in Richmond, VA.