As you prepare for your first executive coaching session, you may just now be researching examples of executive coaching goals.
Chances are, you have a good sense of what you would like to achieve, but are also aware of the possibility that there are other potential outcomes you might not have considered.
Well, you’ve landed on the right article.
No matter your position, industry, and unique circumstances, here are a few guidelines for setting your goals for an executive coaching engagement – along with examples of the goals, and the thinking process that led to them.
In brief, goals are the midpoint of this sequence: Vision – Goals – Strategies.
Vision provides an image of the desired future condition for the individual and/or the overall client organization. The vision is developed by the client, with the coach guiding the process. Expressed well, a vision elicits strong positive emotion capable of motivating a person or team to surmount obstacles. A vision cannot necessarily be measured, but can serve as a North Star that we shoot for.
Goals are measurable, time-bound achievement markers on the way to realizing your vision. They are objective, and can be thought of as vision translated into the facts of physical-world reality.
Strategies are the methods you devise for achieving your goals.
Start With A Vision
A vision is a North Star guiding all goal-setting and work activity.
Before we set any goals, we begin with a vision of our desired future state – for ourselves, and even for our entire organizations. Senior leaders, who most commonly receive executive coaching, are in better positions than anyone else, to affect transformational change in their organizations beginning with their individual transformation.
Therefore, the individual vision a senior leader sets forth can, and often does, extend into an encompassing vision for the larger organization.
One important quality of a vision, is that it is not a goal. The purpose of a vision statement is to rouse the hearts and minds of the people.
For example, “to achieve 35% increase in sales over the next 18 months” is not a vision. This is a goal.
However, “to deliver the best customer service in the industry by taking the best care of our workforce” is much closer to the mark. It is clear, and even carries an aspirational, high-emotion tone. It is not quantifiable, but serves as a destination toward which to move.
While a solitary person with a compelling vision can manifest extraordinary will and effort to achieve that vision, in most cases, a group of people inspired and aligned around a common vision will achieve even greater things than a single person. As I often say, we are better together than alone!
Remember as you establish a vision with your executive coach you’ll eventually have the opportunity to enroll your team in a common vision, or even facilitate a process through which the team comes up with a common vision for the entire company.
Hallett Leadership provides a placeholder vision for client organizations to adopt in the process of transforming toward sustained high performance:
“To have an open and collaborative culture where creativity and innovation thrive.”
With an energizing, inspiring vision in hand, it is time to develop goals.
Goals Are For Realizing The Vision
It’s possible to set and pursue goals that don’t serve a higher vision… but the result is not desirable.
Because if you don’t go to the trouble of intentionally describing a vision, then achieving goals will not have a great deal of meaning to you. You may be achieving “business goals,” but the “why” behind those goals will be missing.
Life is difficult enough as it is. To spend our precious time and energy doing things that don’t have substantial meaning for us, just makes things harder. And less enjoyable.
So do yourself a favor and invest time and effort in a compelling vision.
Once you have a compelling vision, apply your imagination toward devising ways of making that vision real through measurable, concrete projects, or goals.
For example, let’s say your vision is:
To be more authentic in my leadership; someone who is transparent, open and vulnerable in a way that empowers each team member to show up as their full self.
In light of that vision, you might set a goal like this:
To establish a safe environment for feedback designed to drive a process of continual improvement..
Or take this vision as another example:
To have a more collaborative workplace environment.
And one possible goal toward achieving this vision:
To evaluate opportunities in light of the best alternative for the company as a whole (instead of favoring a particular department or division.)
The Difference Between Goals & Strategy
The final stage of the sequence is strategy.
Because it’s common enough to confuse goals and strategy, let’s take a moment to make a clear distinction between these two as well. The distinction lies in the what vs the how.
A goal expresses what is to be achieved.
A strategy describes how it is to be achieved.
To return to our earlier example:
Vision: To be more authentic in my leadership; someone who is transparent, open and vulnerable in a way that empowers each team member to show up as their full self.
Goal: To establish a safe environment for feedback designed to drive a process of continual improvement.
Strategy: Ask my coach and my team for regular feedback on their level of comfort in sharing their thoughts on our approach to continual improvement..
Vision: To have a more collaborative workplace environment.
Goal: To evaluate opportunities in light of the best alternative for the company as a whole (instead of favoring a particular department or division.
Strategy: To create a cross-divisional task force.
From these examples, it should be clear that strategy is your specific pathway to achieving a larger goal.
We hope this article has been helpful in the process of roughing out examples of potential executive coaching goals. With your goals in hand, you will have excellent discussion prompts with your coach in the early stages of your engagement. The two of you will be able to refine and sharpen your goals – as well as the compelling vision those goals serve, and the strategies you will use to carry them out. Best of luck!