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How to Set Personal Goals as a Team Leader

March 1, 2018

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[shutterstock]

As a new or seasoned leader, you typically focus on the goals and aspirations of your team members — it’s your job, after all. But in the process of fine-tuning how to get your account coordinator that next promotion or how to teach budgets to an account executive, it’s easy to lose sight of some of the most important goals of all: your own.

Good managers put their team first, but the best managers know that equalizing the priority of team and personal goals will ultimately be most helpful. That’s because, as a manager, your goals will actually center on contributing to the success of your larger team — which creates an indisputable win-win situation.

But how do you go about setting goals? And, as a busy leader now juggling teams and work, how do you stick to them?
I’m glad you asked. Here’s a quick and actionable checklist that I use to make sure I’m not just setting, but also achieving, my own goals as a manager.

1. Recognize your leadership weaknesses.

First, you need feedback, including constructive (but helpful!) criticism, to inform your goals. It’s easy to pigeonhole yourself into the leadership areas where you excel, but your team also needs your help in the areas you’re not so good at — for example, teaching them new skills, or giving them some of the fun projects or pitches that would help them grow. Instead of taking the easy route and coming up with your own goals, ask your team for feedback. They know you best, and they also know what they need from you better than anyone else.

2. Set two or three clear, measurable goals.

Synthesize the feedback and data that you’ve collected to uncover overarching improvement themes to focus on. Just like you write your client’s goals, make them simple, straightforward and achievable — and ensure that you have some metrics to measure against to keep yourself honest. This could be another team survey midway through the year or an ongoing checklist regarding when and how you’ve improved in an area.

3. Find an accountability buddy.

There’s a reason that people love mastermind groups. In addition to learning valuable information from industry peers, you’re also held accountable for your work. This means being honest, remaining transparent and, at the end of the day, reaching those goals because you have to. While you may not have time for peer brainstorming, find a friend who’s at a similar place in their career through your agency or a local PRSA group. Meet up with them semi-regularly for accountability check-ins. This is a great way to build a friendship while also working together to get where you need to be as team leaders.

4. Sign up for classes, and attend them.

Saying you’ll take a class does not mean that you’ve accomplished your goals. You actually have to, well, attend the class and participate in the discussions to get from point A to point B. If in-person classes don’t fit your schedule, then try webinars. Or, if you want something fully immersive, then attend a leadership conference. Either way, you’ll need experts and thought leaders to help you cultivate this new set of skills; outside education is one of the easiest ways to start.

5. Create an accountability framework with your own boss.

You didn’t get to this stage of your career alone; mentors and bosses guided you along the way. And, as you begin to break into team management, they can help you even more. Share your leadership goals openly and regularly with your own boss so they can be part of this process, providing tips, tricks and candid, real-time feedback to push you to where you need to be.

A promotion of any kind is a big step, but transitioning from tactical executor to team leader is a huge jump that requires more than just new business cards. These guidelines will set you up for success, but above all, never forget to follow your gut; it’s gotten you this far in your career, and it’s the one innate, vital tool that will help you progress even further.

Stephanie Vermillion

Stephanie Vermillion is a content marketer and journalist in the New York City area. She’s the founder of Stephanie Vermillion Studio, and you can follow her work at @StephanieVermillionStudio on Instagram.

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