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To begin with, the end in mind means starting with a clear understanding of your destination.’ – Stephen Covey

As a leader, it is important to know where you’re going. By doing so, you are better able to understand where you are now. When you are aware of both where you are and where you want to be, the steps you take to reach your destination will always move you in the right direction.

I spend a lot of time talking about the journey, rather than the destination. Everything we do in life is part of the journey, but along the way you have certain destinations.

If life is a journey from A to Z, you have to go through every letter of the alphabet in order to get to your final destination. Each one of the letters you pass along the way is a destination of its own. This doesn’t mean that life is about those destinations. Life is about the journey, and about how you move from one point to the next. Leadership is the same.

You cannot lead people if you don’t have a vision. Transforming that vision into reality is your leadership journey. People cannot help you on your journey if you don’t have goals and milestones. In this context, the destinations are the goals or milestones you wish to achieve. 

This is a central part of empowering your teams. You have to give people something to look to, and something to achieve. Otherwise, they have nothing to aim for.

And so, although the focus is the journey, you always need to have a destination in mind. If you’re shooting for the moon, it is important to plan your homecoming first. Does this mean that you’re celebrating victory before you’ve even begun the journey? Essentially, yes. But that celebration isn’t about false optimism. It’s about realism. If you want people to come with you on your journey, you need to find ways to motivate them.

Once you have articulated your vision, you need to put the SMART system in place. Making your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-orientated, and Time-framed is a well-known method of ensuring they can be met. In principle. But what does it mean in practice?

Everyone can have a specific goal. That’s the easy part. Making it measurable and achievable is where people get it wrong. This is because many people do not understand what to measure or how to measure it. And if you don’t know what you’re measuring, how can you achieve it? How do you know what the results are meant to be? And what it the time-frame you are working to?

To give you an example, my team at the hotel wanted to take over running the Instagram account. They started off really well but soon began to post less and less frequently. The posts were great, but they couldn’t measure their success, so they began to lose focus and interest. They could measure the metrics, but without being able to measure their success, they couldn’t see the results in any meaningful way.

I suggested that we ran a promotion, offering customers $5 pints on Tuesday afternoons. Instantly, the goal was SMART. We made a six-second video and uploaded it to Instagram. Yesterday was the first day of the promotion. Twenty-seven people came in between 12 pm and 5 pm to drink $5 pints. 

This meant the team could instantly measure their success. And this where great leadership becomes exciting. It is all about how you put the principles of leadership into practice. 

By having a clear vision, you develop an understanding of how to set realistic goals. By setting realistic goals you inspire people to achieve them. Your people may have great intentions, but without your guidance, they can quickly lose faith in their ability to affect positive change within your organisation. 

Show people the way, give them something to aim for, and not only does the moon becomes an achievable destination, but the homecoming victory can be shared by everyone because each member of your team will recognise the part they played in making your vision a reality.