Leaders, Do You Have Commitment Issues?

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Have you ever gotten frustrated because you didn't hit a goal you had set for yourself? I'm betting you have. It happens to even the best leaders from time to time.

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When something doesn't happen or a ball gets dropped along the way to achieving a goal, the result is often irritation and the sense that the goal may have been unreachable after all.

But I don't agree with that. I think it comes down to commitment issues.

As a business coach, I've seen many leaders lose focus on or motivation for their goals, either because they decided the goal wasn't important or because they quickly moved on to the next shiny object. This behavior makes the road to success extremely difficult.

On the other hand, I've also seen many leaders achieve and even surpass their original goals. What's the difference? Those who succeed aren't just interested in their goals, but fully committed to them.

Grabbing the trophy for your own business requires eliminating your commitment issues. It's not as difficult as it sounds – especially when you follow these steps:

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1. Be Realistic About the Goal in Question

Let's say you had a great brainstorming session and now have an exciting business goal in your sights. Great! However, many successful businesses are able to make it to this point easily. Let's face it: Generating ideas is not only the easiest part of the process, but also the most fun (aside from achieving the goal, of course).

At this point, you're still at the "interested" level. To achieve the goal in your sights, you need dedication and discipline.

The first step is to be open and honest with team members about what you need from them to achieve the goal. Decide now that this goal will take priority over other things. Define what you are and aren't willing to do to ensure the goal stays top of mind at all times.

Finally, you'll need to light a fire in your team. They want to support you in driving the company forward, so inspire passion among individuals and help them understand what their role in meeting the goal looks like. Don't mince words or speak in generalities. More details will become available as the team moves through the process, but do your best to be as specific as possible from the get-go.

2. Build a Plan

Once you have full team buy-in, the next step is to figure out how to meet the goal. After being open and honest about both the goal and the challenges – but before kicking off down the path of achievement – put together a plan.

Start by clearly defining your BHAG, or "Big Hairy Audacious Goal." This is the target or big goal you want to achieve. Then, break that big goal down into specific and measurable steps or tasks that can be divvied up among team members. It's important to give tasks to team members who can own the responsibilities and ensure their completion, so make sure that each actionable step includes a who, what, and by when. Have a way to keep people accountable during the process, perhaps with regular check-ins and rewards for hitting big landmarks along the way.

3. Accept That There Will Be Challenges

Even if you've set up a clear strategic plan, the road to success will not be smooth 100 percent of the time. Team members will encounter roadblocks that seem to delay overall progress.

As the leader, you must be an example for your team in setting and achieving goals. Show your team that you understand there will be difficult challenges along the way and reinforce that it's okay for people to ask for help whenever they need it.

It's also inevitable that, at some point along the way, team members will encounter competing priorities. Small day-to-day tasks or sudden, urgent needs can get in the way of the bigger goal. Keep an open dialogue with your team members about the reality of the work needed. Work with team members to prioritize tasks in such a way that they can still support the BHAG. This will foster an atmosphere of team support in your business and help eliminate roadblocks.

4. Motivate Daily 

The most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders know that success takes patience, hard work, and – most importantly – a continued focus. As Steve Jobs once said, "If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time."

To maintain focus on your goal, motivate your team members daily. It's easy to say you're committed to achieving a goal, but when push comes to shove and things get in the way, actually being committed can be tough. While you may be determined to meet your BHAG no matter what, the team needs to hear you say that it's still important. They want you to cheer them on to success.

Continue to remind your team of the bigger picture, as this will help when times get tough in the trenches. Not only will the team be motivated because of the larger goal, but they'll also see a leader who cares enough to push them when they need it.

Marshall Martin is a strategy and performance coach with Petra Coach. Contact Marshall at marshall@petracoach.com.