The Ultimate Guide to Leadership Skills Smart Goals

I’ve always admired the name ‘Alex.’ I don’t know why, considering I dont even know an Alex. Realizing my bias, I decided to research the name. It stems from ‘Alexander,’ of ancient Greek origins, and means “defender of men.” It is probably why many leaders in Ancient Greece had this name. And let’s remember one of the founding fathers is an Alexander. Is there something in the name that makes one a great leader? That’s pushing it because your name does not have to be Alexander for you to be a respected and visionary leader. No, for that, you need leadership skills SMART goals.

What are the Biggest Challenges Leaders Face in 2024?

Workplaces change as they are expected to. The industry changes, employees change, and the audiences/clients change. It triggers a need to change how the company runs, too. That said, leaders are bound to encounter new workplace challenges.

It’s 2024, and Millennials and Gen Z make up a lot of the employee and consumer demographic. Working from home and hybrid setups are the new normal. In addition, organizations are more conscious about the kind of work environment they provide for their workers.

Positively, employees are more vocal about their needs. Plus, we somehow went through a global pandemic that shifted many other dynamics.

But there is progress, and progress is good. Still, as a leader, you are going to face a whole new set of challenges. Here’s a taste of what you could be dealing with:

Embracing Technology

The past ten years have seen rapid technological advancements. Futuristic comets such as AI are now a key part of work environments.

While employees face challenges working alongside technology, leaders are responsible for understanding and integrating them. It is a challenge as workers are concerned about keeping their jobs, and as a leader, you seem to hold this power in your hands.


The pandemic put a lot of people on the spot, especially leaders. While you may not be the president of a nation, you could be a team leader or company head who may have to decide in the face of uncertainty. The fear of making the wrong decision can be too much for you. You could freeze, making things worse. But it is the burden of a leader.

Crisis Management

And while we are on the topic of uncertainty, as a leader, you will also have to deal with crisis management. There has been an increasing frequency of crises in the 21st century. From economic downturns to pandemics and even geopolitical tension. These are all issues that affect business.

As a leader, it will be your duty to manage a crisis effectively. Furthermore, you must build resilience within the organization while remaining composed and transparent. Sounds easy, right?

Ethical Leadership

Ethical leadership is non-negotiable in this day and time. Leaders are under constant security, employees are not shy about calling out bad managers, and the public will shame you if they don’t cancel you for your bad behavior.

Leaders face the challenge of balancing the pursuit of profits with social responsibility and ethical business practices. Most people not in these positions think it’s easy.

But facing a bunch of strangers calling you out for unethical business practices can really get you sweating. Your business could be over in minutes, and you’ll watch it on your phone.

Guiding Change

And finally, something that many leaders are bound to struggle with is understanding, initiating, and leading change. You need to know how to overcome resistance to change, limit consequences, and deal with how people under you react to the change.

A lot of this revolves around other people’s views on change. And as I have come to learn the hard way, it is difficult to control how people react to things.

A Solution: Leadership Skills Smart Goals

Many leadership challenges then and now can be solved by acquiring the right leadership skills. You need to improve or acquire additional leadership skills to help you face these challenges. More than that, additional skills will help you become a rounded, visionary, and respectable leader.

Believe it or not, acquiring the right leadership skills requires setting goals. Goals are exactly what keeps you improving as a leader. They can be what will eventually define you as a successful leader.

As Fitzhugh Dodson said, “Without goals and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” It is easily one of my favorite quotes to share with graduates entering the job market.

However, goal setting takes work for some. It can be even more challenging if you are a leader trying to improve your style and skills. There are many things to consider.

You must also ensure that the goals will bring progression and success. So, as a leader, you need to understand and embrace leadership skills SMART goals.

What’s That?

Leadership skills SMART goals is the concept of applying SMART standards to setting goals to improve or acquire leadership skills. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Applying these aspects helps ensure that your goals are clear, reachable, and effectively contribute to personal or professional development in leadership.

Have I lost you? It can sound complicated, but it is quite simple. You want to improve your leadership skills or acquire new ones for personal or professional reasons. Instead of diving head first, you decide to set goals for this mission. And just to make sure they are the best goals, you apply SMART!

So what does this look like? Read on as I unpack the concept of Leadership skills SMART goals below.

Understanding SMART Goals

The base of our concept here is SMART. A smart goal incorporates all aspects to help focus your efforts and increase the chances of accomplishing your mission. Here is a breakdown of SMART goals:

Specific Goals

A specific goal is easier to accomplish. Making a specific goal requires considering the five W questions.

Ask yourself who is involved in the goal, what you want to accomplish, why you want to accomplish the goal, when you want to accomplish it, and where the goal is to be achieved.

So, a goal like ‘I want to be a good leader’ can turn into, ‘I want to better communicate with my team during pre-project meetings, so they understand their roles better.’

Measurable Goals

Your smart goals should have a way to measure progress. If there are no criteria for it, you will never know if you are on the right track.

Measurable goals have an answer to ‘how many’ or ‘how much.’ If not, they should answer, ‘How do I know I have reached my goal?’ In the case of leadership smart goals, it can be challenging to set an indicator of progress.

Based on the example above, you could ask yourself, ‘How many employees understood their roles well?’

Achievable Goals

A smart goal should always be achievable. It should be just enough to challenge you but not so much that it becomes impossible.

You can tell a goal is achievable by asking yourself if you have the capability and resources to achieve the goal. If not, ask yourself if you can get what you are missing. Another way to tell is by researching if others have done it successfully.

If your leadership skills smart goal is better communication, you may already be able to improve as others have. However, you could employ resources such as online courses to help.

Timely Goals

And finally, while many people ignore this part, a smart goal should have an expiry date. If it doesn’t, then you will be less motivated to achieve the goal. Always give your goal a deadline.

Detailed Steps Applying Leadership Skills Smart Goals

Applying SMART to your leadership skills goals is easy. For example, take the common leadership skill goal of improving decision-making processes within a team.

Applying each SMART criteria to this goal involves detailed steps to ensure it is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

  1. Specific

Your goal is to improve the decision-making process within the team to enhance efficiency and effectiveness.

Start by identifying the specific element of decision-making to improve. For me, it is speed, where I need to focus on reducing the time it takes to make decisions. For most leaders, it is quality, where you focus on making decisions backed by data or careful research.

Afterward, you can decide what successful improvement looks like. This could be reducing decision-making time by 50%— or more successful results after you make the decision.

  1. Measurable

The goal here is to implement measurable indicators to track the improvement in the decision-making process.

Before making any changes, record the average time you take to reach decisions and the outcomes of these decisions. After this, set a measurable target. I struggle with deciding, so mine would be to reduce decision-making time from 2 weeks to 1 week.

The final step is measuring your progress. In such a case, you can track how long it takes between the need to decide and finally making it.

  1. Achievable

You must ensure the goal to improve the decision-making process is realistic. That is considering your current resources and capabilities. Do you have the tools, technologies, or training resources to support faster decision-making?

You must plan for appropriate training sessions if the goal requires new skills. For example, if you want to improve the quality of your decisions, it wouldn’t hurt to invest in an analytical thinking course.

Even more important, be ready to adjust your targets to ensure they remain challenging but possible.

  1. Relevant

As you progress, it is important to confirm that improving decision-making is best for the company and those you lead.

Check that faster or high-quality decision-making supports the company’s overall goals and sits well with those you lead.

  1. Time-bound

And finally, you should set a clear deadline for improving the decision-making process. Ensure that the deadline is reasonable. For example, three months is a good time to reduce decision-making by 50%. Or three months to improve decision outcomes by 30%.

In addition, always check in with yourself regularly to view progress and adjust your approach to meet the deadline.

And that’s it for leadership skills smart goals!

Final Thoughts: Approach Leadership Smartly

Strategic planning for achieving leadership skills is beneficial. It increases the chances of improving or obtaining leadership skills to help you, those you lead, and the company. Achieving leadership skills with SMART goals can even unlock career development opportunities.

Who doesn’t want that? So don’t settle for being a good leader. List what leadership skills you can improve or achieve, apply SMART goals, and journey into being the next Alexander in history!

Unlock Success with Leadership Skills Smart Goals

Discover the ultimate guide to enhancing your leadership skills SMART goals for personal and professional growth. Learn how to become an effective leader and achieve success.

Ready to take your leadership skills to the next level? Learn the essentials of SMART goals for men in our comprehensive guide.

About Author

Waithira Njagi is a seasoned wellness and relationship content writer with nearly a decade of experience. Her passion for helping others navigate the complexities of personal growth and connection shines through in her engaging and insightful writing.
With a knack for distilling complex topics into easily digestible pieces, Waithira's work is geared toward readers seeking guidance and inspiration on their journey to holistic well-being.
When she's not crafting engaging articles, you can find Waithira curled up with a stack of romance novels– always rooting for love to win– or enjoying quality time with her beloved family. Her dedication to spreading love and positivity is evident in everything she creates.

Waithira is here to remind you that life, much like their stories, is a tapestry of connections - to loved ones, and the endless adventures found in books.

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