The Importance of Setting Clear Goals and How To Do It

Setting Clear Goals

Setting clear goals is a critical part of any leader’s job.  It sounds simple and yet I come across a lot of vague and ambiguous ones.  If we know it’s important, why aren’t we really good at it?


When I think of goals, the acronym SMART usually comes to mind.  SMART stands for the key elements of any goal.  They need to be:






This is a great tool to remember what makes up an effective goal, but it still doesn’t explain why we are poor at goal setting.  The missing link for me is the ‘why’.  Why having clear and effective goals is so important.

What if a Race had No Finish Line?

Imagine running a race where the finish line hasn’t been clearly defined.  You are told you’ll know it when you find it.  At first it may sound exciting and then it gets frustrating and very demotivating as you get tired.  You have no idea if you are getting closer to the finish line.  A race without a finish line sounds crazy and yet this is what we do every time we don’t set clear goals.

The alternative is to set a goal that defines how we will know when we are done.  A good goal also informs us how close we are to achieving it because we can measure our progress.  It is also motivating knowing we are making progress, getting closer to the finish line.

This means we have to ask ourselves some important questions:

  • How will we assess completion?
  • What will we measure?
  • Who will measure it?

Setting Clear Goals

I commonly see goals expressed as ‘we will be the best’.  While that is aspirational and feels good, what do we mean by best?  Be the best at what?  The most respected, fastest, valuable, highest quality, cheapest, etc?

In a recent client conversation we talked about being the best.  For them, it was being the most respected organization.  They needed to figure out who had the credibility to determine they were the best, so that everyone else would listen.  This might be an industry expert or becoming the go to company the media would reach out to for comments.

What goals have you set for your team, function or company?  Do you know what done looks like and does everyone else?

To learn more about setting clear goals, please join me for a free webinar to learn how effective leaders turn their vision into results.  Click the link below to learn more.

Comments (2)

I prepare for various exams butt many times I fail and this disappoints me a lot where I feel low but after coming across this article I have learnt so much and also found few things that I planned wrong. Thank you for the post.

Hi Bhuvi, Thank you for the feedback, I am glad you found the post helpful. The clearer your goals, the higher likelihood you will achieve them. I wish you success achieving your goals! Andy

Comments are closed.