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16 Leadership Goals Every Business Leader Should Have

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16 Leadership Goals Every Business Leader Should Have

Outstanding leadership is key to any organization’s success. Without it, a business is prone to low morale and frequent turnover. One way to help yourself grow as a leader is to set actionable, trackable leadership goals. These goals should be focused on addressing your weaknesses and building upon your strengths.

Whether you’re a seasoned leader, or you’ve just stepped into your first management role, you should always make a point to improve your leadership skills. If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve put together everything you need to know about setting leadership goals and what goals you should focus on.

What are leadership goals?

How to Set Leadership Goals

Leadership SMART Goals

Leadership Goals Examples

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What are leadership goals?

Leadership goals are objectives aspiring leaders set that typically pertain to improvements in communication and fostering healthy relationships — both of which create healthy, happy, and productive work environments.

As a leader, you should always assess your skills and look for ways to grow and improve. Maybe you’re excellent at organizing data for meetings but could work on your public speaking skills, or you excel at conflict-resolution but could still be a better active listener.

Goal-setting is key to effective leadership that can keep up with evolving industries. If you consistently set goals for your leadership style, both your employees and your business will benefit.

How to Set Leadership Goals

Your strengths and weaknesses as a leader may not be the same as the next person’s, so it’s important to tailor your leadership goals. It helps to take the time to sit down and write exactly what you want to accomplish. You can get started by first identifying your strengths and weaknesses. Then, you’ll want to choose one or two weaknesses you want to improve at a time.

After you’ve chosen the weakness (or weaknesses) you’d like to improve, set three or four development goals —and build a road map to achieve them. As you work toward your goals, track your progress. Once you’ve achieved your goals, reassess your leadership skills, choose new areas to work on, and set new goals.

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Leadership SMART Goals

SMART leadership goals are leadership goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.

Specific

What is your exact goal as a leader? Saying you want to be a better listener is too vague of a leadership goal in this case. However, saying you want to lessen the amount of times your colleagues have had to repeat themselves by 10% is much more specific.

Measurable

Whatever your goal is needs to be measurable with quantitative data. Examples include wanting to improve revenue by 20%, cutting production costs in half, or expanding your team by adding 15 more people. All of these goals can be quantified.

Attainable

It’s important to set realistic goals. It’s great to have ambitious goals, but they shouldn’t be impossible. For example, a goal to quadruple your company’s revenue within the month may not be realistic, however, a goal to increase revenue by 20% each quarter is much more attainable.

Setting goals that are far too ambitious can result in burnout, missed deadlines, decreased morale, and high employee turnover.

Relevant

Your leadership goals should be clearly connected to the overall project you’re working on. For example, if you want to improve your brand’s social media presence, then having a goal specifically connected to raising engagement on Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok is relevant.

Timely

Give yourself a reasonable timeframe to complete your goals. For example, let’s say you want to improve your active listening skills by reducing the number of times colleagues have had to repeat information by 50%. To make this goal timely, you could give yourself three months to reach that goal.

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16 Leadership Goals Examples

Here are 16 leadership goals every business leader should have:

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1. Become a more active listener.

Effective leaders don’t just provide guidance, they also listen — that’s why improving active listening is an important leadership goal. Employees want to feel heard and know their voices matter. By hearing your team members and colleagues out, you can gain insight into new perspectives and discover ideas to move your business forward.

Active listening means giving the person who is speaking your full, undivided attention. You’re not just listening to their words, you’re consciously analyzing what you hear, paying close attention to the intent, content, and emotion of the speaker.

Pro Tip: Schedule a weekly meeting with at least one person who directly reports to you in order to practice active listening.

2. Learn to gracefully accept constructive criticism.

A key to improving any skill is to learn to take constructive criticism. Being open to upward feedback can help give insight into areas into how you can improve your workplace’s day-to-day. Empowering your staff to provide feedback on your or the company’s performance can also boost morale and lower turnover.

Pro Tip: Send out surveys and create spaces for your employees to provide upward feedback. Set a goal to increase the number of employees providing feedback by a certain percentage, such as 20% by the end of a quarter.

3. Be adaptable to growth and change.

No matter your industry, you should always be prepared to adapt to new developments. This was especially clear during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when businesses had to swiftly adjust their business models to a changing economy and the norm of working from home.

The keys to being adaptable are developing backup strategies, creating a strong support system around the office, and not getting too attached to a particular business approach.

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Pro Tip: It never hurts to come up with a Plan B, C, or D in case of an unexpected event. You may also want to practice mindfulness to develop habits that promote adaptability and calm.

4. Improve your confidence.

If you exude confidence in yourself, your work, and your decision making, others will feel confident in you as well. Employees are more likely to trust in and follow confident leadership. And don’t feel discouraged if you’re not feeling confident all the time.

On days when you’re not feeling confident, repeat uplifting affirmations to yourself and make a private list of your best qualities as a leader.

Pro Tip: Taking a class in public speaking is a great way to build confidence especially as it pertains to speaking in front of large groups of people.

5. Build emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, use, and regulate your emotions. This is a great leadership goal to have because you need to be able to remain calm if you want to adapt to a changing market or facilitate a healthy work environment.

To build your emotional intelligence, focus on these five components:

  • Internal motivation
  • Self regulation
  • Self awareness
  • Empathy
  • Social awareness

Pro Tip: Commit to keeping a journal and giving yourself about 30 minutes at the end of each workday to document how well you handle your emotions. What were some good moments, and what are some pain points you need to work on?

6. Be comfortable delegating tasks.

Asking for help can be hard, but it takes a team effort to run a business. If you overload yourself with too many responsibilities, you risk experiencing burnout. Instead, get in the habit of asking for help and relying on your team when necessary. Delegating tasks can reduce your stress and even provide new opportunities for team members to develop new skills.

Pro Tip: Start by delegating two simple tasks a week to an employee (or employees) who directly reports to you.

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7. Practice transparency.

A great leader is open and honest with their staff and takes accountability for their own actions. This establishes trust between management and employees, which is incredibly important during times of uncertainty.

Pro Tip: Commit to sending out weekly updates or hosting regularly scheduled meetings to keep employees informed about company wins and losses.

8. Become a mentor.

If you want to boost morale at the workplace and foster your company’s growth, you should also act as a mentor to your staff. You can be a mentor by uplifting your employees and guiding them toward advancement. This can be done with scheduled training activities and meetings.

Pro Tip: Schedule weekly or bi-weekly training sessions where you can offer advice and help staff members build their skills.

9. Improve time management.

Just like your employees, you have to meet your deadlines. That means committing to ending meetings on time, sending out important information in a timely manner, and following up when you say you will.

Pro Tip: Keep a timer and dedicate a specific amount of time to completing certain tasks. For example, give yourself 30 minutes to draft reports. If the task takes longer, keep track of why. Is the task naturally more time-consuming? Do you need to limit distractions? Use your findings to better audit your time in the future.

10. Micromanage less.

Micromanaging can make employees feel anxious, lower morale, and cause burnout for your staff. This all can lead to higher turnover and a decrease in productivity. Your employees want to know that you trust them to succeed in the company’s mission — so try to take a hands-off approach whenever possible, and make it clear that you’re always available for guidance when they need it.

Pro Tip: Reduce check-ins on projects to once a week or bi-weekly, allowing your employees to work without too much pressure.

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11. Build a dynamic team.

A well-rounded team with diverse perspectives is a strong asset to any company. To achieve this as a leadership goal, you may want to look into higher diverse or global candidates, pair teams together, and emphasize fresh perspectives.

Pro Tip: A way to achieve this could be to implement blind hiring practices in your HR department and work to eliminate any biases.

12. Lead by example.

Whether it’s meeting deadlines, clocking into work on time, or increasing productivity, expecting your employees to live up to standards you aren’t meeting yourself is unfair. You have to set a positive example for your staff. That means approaching new tasks with enthusiasm and doing your part to ensure the company meets its goals.

Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and step in to help with tedious projects when needed.

13. Offer more helpful constructive feedback.

As a leader, you should feel comfortable giving feedback to employees so that they know when they’re on the right track and where improvements can be made. Check-in with employees and give frequent positive feedback and constructive criticism to guide them along.

Pro Tip: Instead of waiting for something to go wrong to give feedback or waiting until an annual review, schedule weekly check-ins and make a point to acknowledge great work as soon as you see it.

14. Improve employee relations.

At a time when many employees are working from home and not together in a single office space, fostering strong professional relationships can be difficult. Making it a leadership goal to improve relationships among employees can ultimately build a stronger team that is dedicated to moving the company forward.

Pro Tip: Schedule bi-weekly or monthly coffee chats or virtual games to build community within the company and to allow your employees time to get to know each other in a relaxing environment.

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15. Improve decision-making skills.

Make it a goal to find a decision-making process that helps you make sound decisions in a timely manner. This will help your team get started on projects sooner and allow the company to meet more deadlines. That decision-making process may include consulting your team for their input.

Pro Tip: This is yet another example of why it’s important to delegate certain tasks. Having someone you can appoint as a person you can defer to for input on decisions can help lessen the stress of decision-making.

16. Become aware of your team’s personal strengths.

Understanding your team’s individual strengths and weaknesses will make it easier to designate tasks most effectively. Make a point to evaluate each individual’s strength and assign tasks that will utilize those strengths. Your team will feel appreciated and production will go more smoothly.

Pro Tip: Once per quarter, send out surveys to employees asking them to highlight their strengths and areas they’d like to improve.

No matter how long you’ve been a leader, you should always have specific, actionable leadership goals to work toward. Becoming complacent inhibits growth — both yours and your company’s — so always reassess yourself and hold yourself accountable.

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Follow This Purpose-Driven Path to Greater SEO Success

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Follow This Purpose-Driven Path to Greater SEO Success

Historically, getting content to reach the top of a search engine results page usually hinged on your team’s ability to fulfill the rules of Google’s algorithm – no matter how complex, obscure, and sometimes unwritten.

However, that picture is changing now that AI has arrived behind the scenes of the top search engine, says Dale Bertrand, Fire and Spark’s content and SEO strategist. Its machine learning delivers more precise, adaptive, and contextual search results. It also gives marketers another approach to search result success – a purpose-driven strategy.

Develop a purpose-driven #SEO strategy that would please @Google’s #AI algorithm, says @joderama via @CMIContent @pageonepower. Click To Tweet

At the 2022 ContentTECH Summit and a recent Ask the CMWorld Community interview, Dale discussed what Google’s heavier reliance on an AI-controlled algorithm means and how a purpose-driven approach can help your brand compete with – and even beat – bigger fish in the SEO sea.

Search for greater SEO intelligence

In the early days of digital search, Google’s founders used the web’s link structure to rank the most relevant page results. “Basically, if you had the right links to your website and the right keywords on your pages, you would rank well,” Dale says.

But now, it’s more important to understand how that AI engine gets trained than to follow technical SEO rules. Dale says making this mindset change can help set your content on a path to increased visibility on search and stronger marketing performance overall.

It’s more important now to understand how that #AI engine gets trained than to follow technical #SEO rules, says Dale Bertrand of @Fire_and_Spark via @joderama @CMIContent @pageonepower. Click To Tweet

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Engineers set the technical quality guidelines

Human engineers are still involved in ranking content relevance. But instead of programming the algorithm, their role is to rate a site’s trustworthiness, content accuracy, authoritativeness, and connection to other relevant content providers on the topic at hand.

“That quality information is collected as a big dataset from websites that have been graded, which is part of what they feed into Google’s algorithm to train the AI,” says Dale. There’s a big, long document out there – the web quality raters guide. Any marketer can read it to see what the raters look for when building the training dataset for Google’s AI.”


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AI adds behavioral signals

From that point, Google’s AI engine takes over, tracking search behaviors, analyzing signals of intent, and correlating those insights with the quality rating data to determine the most relevant content to a search query.

But, Dale says, keep in mind: “Google’s AI engine doesn’t care about your content – it only cares about its own performance.” It’s looking for confirmation that the content it selects will deliver a satisfying experience for searchers. Your job is to make sure it sees your brand’s content as a likely win.

Prove your #content has what it takes for better search results. Build momentum through community and demonstrate multifactor authority, says Dale Bertrand of @Fire_and_Spark via @joderama @CMIContent @pageonepower. Click To Tweet

Shared purpose promotes multifactor authority

Dale discusses two ways brands can prove that their content has what it takes to deliver the AI’s desired results:

  • Build momentum through community. A community behind your brand frequently visits, engages with, and links to your website. They recommend your products and services and amplify your site. Dale says these actions demonstrate a high level of customer intimacy. Google’s AI uses the artifacts of success from this content – high engagement, low bounce rate, and a high click-through rate – to confirm your site and content are loved.
  • Demonstrate multifactor authority. Part of AI’s investigation of brands that resonate with online consumers is the company you keep, Dale says. Authoritative individuals, organizations, and influencers can contribute to your brand’s authority by linking to, citing, and amplifying your content across their channels and platforms.

Prove your #content has what it takes for better search results. Build momentum through community and demonstrate multifactor authority, says Dale Bertrand of @Fire_and_Spark via @joderama @CMIContent @pageonepower. Click To Tweet

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How to use purpose to build SEO power

Dale describes an SEO strategy that can help build authority and momentum by focusing on a purpose your brand believes in: “Hopefully, your brand stands for something. But [for SEO], it’s even better if your brand is actively promoting a change that you want to see in your industry.”

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By using your content to build valuable conversations around that change, you give the tools to those with an established interest to spread your brand messages. This data around this reciprocal relationship demonstrates the brand traction Google’s AI sees as proof your content is a solid search bet.

Dale shares a client example:

I worked with one brand that was selling handmade children’s products. The US government was about to pass a law that would have made it so [small businesses like this] would have had to do $100,000 worth of testing before being allowed to sell a single product. We were able to lead the movement against that law and turn that into an SEO campaign that generated authority, backlinks, and website engagement – all the things that Google’s AI is looking for.

He explains the process he used to achieve those results:

Step 1: Find high-profile groups and learn about the causes they support

Find potential partners – influencers, non-profits, advocacy organizations, and others who are working towards a purpose in which your business might have a stake. It could be an organization that’s written about helping previously incarcerated people find jobs, influencers promoting veteran-run businesses, or an event that supports disadvantaged youth in your local community.

When you’ve identified viable candidates, research their positions and how they communicate about them in their online conversations. “You need to understand what issues these influencers care about, what they’re writing about, what’s going on in their social conversations. All of those things are targets for your purpose-driven SEO campaign,” Dale says.

Step 2: Choose a mission your content will support

Once you find an area with enough grassroots supporters, craft a mission statement around it for your brand’s SEO campaign. It should be something your brand can speak to authentically; otherwise, audiences will see right through it. “It has to be based on your organization’s values because you’re going to get behind it. At the end of the day, if you don’t care about feeding hungry children, that just can’t be the mission,” Dale says.

If you’re on the B2B side or operate in a crowded market, it may be worthwhile to adopt a unique or even slightly controversial mission to differentiate your brand. “[You might think] sustainability is a good [purpose to build on], but so many companies have taken this topic on that it doesn’t move the needle from a search marketing perspective,” Dale says.

Rather than just choosing a hot topic, he suggests looking for a niche, such as a critical change affecting the supply chain for your industry or a regulatory issue that impacts product costs, to rally around. Doing so can help insert your brand name into relevant conversations that your bigger, higher-profile competitors may not be associated with.

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Step 3: Create “citable” content aligned with your mission

The goal isn’t to promote your brand’s involvement with the chosen cause; it’s to create content your partner organizations can cite when making their case for the cause. “The content is fuel for their advocacy – it gives them credible, authoritative information they can use in their arguments,” Dale says.

For example, Dale says, interview someone personally affected by the mission, write an opinion piece about the change your business is advocating, or publish an original research report. “This is the type of content that [they] would organically mention and link to while trying to get their point across in their own content conversations. That’s how you’re going to get the deeper engagement and increased backlinks that Google’s AI can see,” says Dale.

Step 4: Reach out to other like-minded influencers

With a body of purpose-focused content cited and linked to, you can increase your content’s authority and reach by sharing the outcomes with other influencers who care about the topic. But rather than conducting a blast email campaign, contact them individually by email or personal message on social channels.

In this outreach, focus your messages on furthering the mission. “We’re not promoting our business, our products, and services, or our content. We’re saying, ‘Hey, I saw that you’re a big advocate for helping previously incarcerated youth find jobs. We’ve got an interview your audience would be interested in … would you help us promote it?’” Dale explains.

Not only are influencers more likely to respond to this type of outreach, but they may be more willing to promote your content without compensation because it helps them create content in an area that they’re passionate about, Dale says.

Fuel a shared purpose and find greater search success

In a crowded landscape, where reaching a top spot on SERPs is harder to achieve than ever, it’s time for marketers to stop trying to outsmart the search algorithm. By putting a shared human purpose at the center of your SEO strategy, your content will broadcast all the signals of authority, relevance, and value Google’s AI is looking for.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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