10 SMART Goals for Leadership Development
Having specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) goals allows leaders to focus on strategies to improve their leadership skills. By setting SMART goals for leadership development, individuals and organizations can create a clear roadmap for achieving their desired outcomes and drive continuous improvement in their leadership practices.
Below, we’ve compiled a practical list of 10 SMART goals with examples for leadership development and building a strong and effective team.
1. Improve Communication Skills
Communication is one of the most important skills one can learn in the workplace to cultivate a culture of transparency. For example, every month for six months, you might complete a short communication course. After six months, ask for feedback from team members and management, choosing new course topics based on their feedback.
Here’s a breakdown of this SMART goal:
- Specific: Complete a specific communication course based on feedback every month.
- Measurable: The measurable part is completing a course per month for six months.
- Achievable: Schedule a date and time to complete each course.
- Relevant: Effective communication can help leaders build strong team relationships and reduce misunderstandings.
- Time-bound: The goal will end in six months.
2. Learn to Accept Constructive Criticism
Part of becoming a better leader is learning how to deal and accept constructive criticism to demonstrate humility and openness to learning. For instance, start seeing constructive criticism as a growth opportunity. Your goal might be to track what your team has said and how you reacted to it for three months.
Here’s why this is a SMART goal:
- Specific: Start seeing constructive criticism as an opportunity to learn and grow.
- Measurable: Track occasions where you accept constructive criticism without becoming defensive. Note what was said as feedback and how you reacted.
- Achievable: You can achieve this goal by keeping a physical or online tracker ready to write down constructive criticism received for the following four months.
- Relevant: Accepting constructive criticism is a crucial leadership skill to help you and your team.
- Time-bound: You practice this skill for three months.
3. Learn to Give Constructive Feedback
Now that you feel more confident about receiving constructive criticism, you can learn to give constructive feedback to your team. To give an example, aim to provide constructive feedback respectfully. For the next quarter, track occasions where you provided high-quality, useful feedback. Each month, ask for your team’s feedback on your efforts and re-evaluate if necessary.
Here’s how this example meets the SMART goal criteria:
- Specific: Provide constructive feedback to your team members in a respective manner.
- Measurable: Track occasions where you gave constructive feedback to team members, what you said and how you felt. Ask for feedback on your efforts each month.
- Achievable: Achieve this goal by taking time to prepare for each session.
- Relevant: Giving constructive feedback can help team members identify areas for improvement and foster a culture of accountability and continuous learning and improvement.
- Time-bound: Practice this skill for the next three months.
4. Build Relationships Within Your Team
Building relationships with team members can create a supportive and engaging environment. For example, you can schedule monthly check-ins with each employee to touch base about projects and general career topics. After three months, ask for feedback about the check-ins and readjust the approach as necessary.
Here’s a breakdown of this SMART goal example:
- Specific: The goal is to meet with each team member in a relaxed setting monthly to get to know them.
- Measurable: The measurable part is having monthly check-ins for three months.
- Achievable: It’s achievable by setting aside 30 minutes a few times each month.
- Relevant: Creating a positive work environment and boosting productivity requires building strong relationships with your team member.
- Time-bound: The goal will end in three months.
5. Be More Adaptable to Change
By developing the ability to adapt to change, leaders can inspire confidence and trust in their team members. As a goal example, you can complete a change management training course and apply what you’ve learned in the following six months. In this period, track instances where you swiftly adapted to unexpected changes.
Here’s why this is a SMART goal:
- Specific: Complete a change management course and apply what you learn in your workdays.
- Measurable: After completing the course, track instances where you successfully dealt with unexpected changes in the workplace.
- Achievable: Achieve this goal by investing in a practical course that provides guidelines or resources to execute the content. The course should have a timeline of completion.
- Relevant: Adaptability can help leaders stay agile and resilient in unexpected challenges.
- Time-bound: Achieve this goal in six months while continuously seeking ways to increase adaptability in different settings.
6. Run Effective Meetings
Sometimes, a simple email suffices over a meeting, but meetings remain a crucial part of the workplace. One way to achieve this is to improve your meeting and presentation skills by using a meeting schedule for the next two months. Have team members provide feedback and iterate as needed.
Here’s how this example meets the SMART goal criteria:
- Specific: Improve your meeting and presentation skills.
- Measurable: The measurable action is to keep meetings within your team’s schedule, keeping track of whenever it goes over or under the time estimate.
- Achievable: Plan and share the meeting schedule and agenda to keep team members informed.
- Relevant: Conducting efficient meetings saves time and keeps everyone focused on their tasks, allowing you to communicate in an efficient manner.
- Time-bound: Work on this goal for two months.
7. Promote Knowledge-Sharing Systems
To ensure your team works effectively and efficiently, you must have systems in place for sharing knowledge and resources. For instance, you can build a hub of standard operating procedures (SOPs) regarding your team’s processes. After three months, note how often team members require direct assistance and adjust SOPs as needed.
We can see this goal’s SMART criteria below:
- Specific: Build a shareable hub of your team’s SOPs.
- Measurable: Once the hub is available, note how often team members require direct assistance and adjust SOPs as needed.
- Achievable: This can be achieved by listing the processes and building a shareable SOP hub in a specific timeframe, such as one quarter.
- Relevant: A leader can develop a more skilled team by supporting their professional growth and providing opportunities for skill-building.
- Time-bound: Launch this project over the next three months, training everyone on the SOPs.
8. Build Internal Talent
A leader who aims to build internal talent can create a culture of learning and development within the company. As an example, you can implement talent development workshops or mentorship programs every three months for one year and track how many team members participate in each.
Build internal talent with this SMART goal example:
- Specific: Implement talent development workshops or mentorship programs for your team.
- Measurable: Track how many team members participate in each of these sessions.
- Achievable: Take time to search for relevant workshops and make them accessible to your team.
- Relevant: Developing internal talent helps retain top-performing staff while enhancing the company’s talent pool.
- Time-bound: Achieve this goal within the following year, looking for tools and opportunities for professional development.
9. Show Appreciation and Recognition
Showing appreciation and recognition involves acknowledging team members’ hard work and accomplishments with positive feedback. To show appreciation for your team members, plan a fun monthly event exclusively for your team. After six months, ask for feedback and readjust if needed.
Here’s the SMART goal example broken down:
- Specific: Plan fun events for your team to show your appreciation.
- Measurable: The measurable part is having monthly events for six months and asking for feedback from your members about the experience.
- Achievable: It’s achievable by setting aside a company budget and scheduling a monthly fun event.
- Relevant: Showing appreciation and recognition can empower team members and improve morale and motivation.
- Time-bound: Complete this goal over six months.
10. Become Comfortable With Delegating Tasks
Trusting your team members and giving them authority over tasks and projects in your absence allows you to focus on higher-level tasks. For example, you can start outsourcing responsibilities without feeling uncomfortable or that you need to micromanage for the next six months. Ask your team for feedback afterward.
Here’s how this example meets SMART goal criteria:
- Specific: Confidently delegate tasks to team members.
- Measurable: Track the number of tasks you assign and their success percentage. Note how comfortable your team members are with taking on allocated duties.
- Achievable: Schedule time each week to delegate and track the completion of these tasks per member.
- Relevant: Leaders can develop trust and confidence in their team members, foster accountability and create opportunities to develop new skills and knowledge.
- Time-bound: Achieve this in six months by distributing jobs effectively.
Become a Better Leader With Exude Human Capital
Setting SMART leadership development goals is essential to becoming an effective and successful leader. Leadership coaching can create momentum in achieving your goals.
Exude is a consulting company that has helped firms apply leadership and staff development skills. We aim to help you with outstanding guidance on developing skilled leaders to promote your company’s purpose.