Stretch Goals for Your Way of Being


As you begin to think about your goals for 2012, you might find yourself stumped. What new goals will you have? What would be the most effective way to upgrade your leadership (besides subscribing to this blog or hiring me, of course J)?

We often think of the goals we need to do; that big project that needs to be completed, the performance evaluations that you want to do on time, staying under budget, or connecting with customers. We think less about goals that will help us to be better leaders

What if, for 2012, you considered some powerful character/behavioral goals? We all have personal behaviors that we can apply some effort to get better at. Perhaps you have some that you are already good at but you need to stretch yourself on. Here are some things to consider that almost EVERY leader can get better at:

Listening: This is top of my own personal list every year, and although I know I have improved, I have a long way to go. There are very few leaders who don’t need to improve in this area. Maybe you “pretend listen” and find your mind wandering – so the stretch goal would be to listen for understanding; this is the kind of deep listening that goes beyond the words you hear, and takes in tone, inflection, body language, etc. Perhaps you’d just like to ramp up the percentage of time you spend listening from 50% to 80% (this is ideal, in my book!). If you have yet to be convinced of the importance of stretching your listening skills, read Three Surprising Benefits from Better Listening.

Asking: Isn’t it time that you stopped being the source of all knowledge and became more curious? Asking questions instead of spouting answers is the twin to listening for understanding. It’s a great way for your stakeholders (your staff, manager, peers, customers) to feel heard. If you are already on the path to asking more, how about stretching yourself by asking more questions of others that will help them to learn to think more deeply? Some examples: “What values are most important to you?”, “What are your greatest strengths?”, “What is your personal/professional theme for 2012?”. (Note: questions that begin with “What” can be powerful). More tips on asking great questions can be found here and the mindset required can be found here .

Serving: Some of the best leaders take the stance of “serving others”. Perhaps you consider yourself a servant leader already; you are inclusive in your style. Consider a goal to stretch yourself by finding new or different ways to care for others (Robert Greenleaf, the father of the Servant Leadership states: “ …caring for persons, the more able and the less able serving each other, is the rock upon which a good society is built.”). Who needs your attention? What form might that attention take? Consider giving more public or private recognition; coaching or mentoring those who are ready, or a stretch assignment or project for your high potentials. How about Emotional Nourishment?

Maybe this year is your year for stretch goals in your way of being. What character traits do you need to strengthen in 2012?


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Mary Jo Asmus is the founder and President of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC, an executive coach, writer, internationally recognized thought leader, and a consultant who partners with organizations of all kinds to develop and administer coaching programs. She has “walked in your shoes” as a former leader in a Fortune company.


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