I facilitated a peer group meeting today of CEOs where the topic was personal goals for 2016. Given that they were all running companies, most of the goals focused on achieving revenue, profit, share price or fundraising targets for their companies. There were a number of objectives that involved load balancing the management team, i.e., making sure that the right expertise was in the right role, correcting a mismatch that exists now. Several of these executives also sought to improve their leadership skills either by being able to focus on higher order tasks, like thought leadership, or successfully instilling a common leadership framework and language in the management ranks.
Much to my surprise, all of them offered at least one personal goal as well. And although there was the obligatory, “get in better shape”, (it is just post New Year’s Resolution time after all…) there were also some audacious aspirations, everything from learning acrobatic flying to completing a series of 8 abstract paintings. I asked each CEO which goal was the most at risk for the year, and many times it was that personal goal. That was due in part to the fact that the time allocation for the personal goal was totally dependent on the success of achieving the business goal; if product releases don’t happen on time, golf handicaps won’t go down, and if revenue stalls there won’t be a personal best in one of several half marathons. Common sense demands the business priorities come first.
On the other hand, my surmise is that for some of these busy folks, setting personal goals may have been a new exercise. We have all had to live and die by business goals — that is the way of the world. But how many of us plan to accomplish what some may deem less important or even frivolous goals? There is a power in saying what you want out loud. It gives it import; it makes it real. Years ago I did this exercise and I said I wanted to get on a corporate board. Within two years I was. In reality, the fact that I said it out loud had nothing to do with my ending up on that Board, but there is the power of intention. To me, speaking it helped make it so.
So I am very optimistic about the goals set by my CEO cohort. Certainly there will be bumps in the road for some, but I am eager to hear not just of the revenue targets achieved, but also about the abstract paintings.