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Using Goal Science to Prepare Your Organization’s Future Leaders

Jason Diamond Arnold

October 24, 2019

Your organization may have an excellent strategy to deliver a brilliant product or service to clients, but without an effective execution plan, that strategy can get lost in the chaos of the moment-by-moment activities performed by the individuals attempting to execute on that strategy each day. While execution of strategy remains critical, research reveals that employees at three out of every five companies rate their organization weak at strategy execution. Even more alarming, only 8% of employees think their organization’s leaders are good at both setting strategy and executing strategy.

#SMARTGoals and #OKRs are both simply goal-setting methods. Discover which is best for your future plans with @InspireSoftware:Tweet This!

Effective leadership is the cornerstone to executing the strategy of any organization. But leadership at the executive level of an organization alone can’t determine the successful execution of strategy. At Inspire, through our partnership with Leadership Genius, we believe leadership happens across different contexts of an organization. Therefore, everyone in an organization has a responsibility to move organizational strategy from an idea into a reality. Strategy execution is not only the responsibility of executive leadership — or middle managers and team leaders — but everyone who experiences the leadership practices that happen on a continual basis throughout the entire organization.

How to Address the Strategy Execution Crisis through Leadership

One of the core leadership skills of any viable leadership program is the science of setting effective and meaningful goals at every level of the organization. Whether it’s corporate OKRs or individual SMART goals, clearly defining your objectives and understanding how to measure the key results you’re pursuing is fundamental in closing the gap between a corporate strategy and the execution of that strategy. Organizations that have an effective goal-setting methodology execute strategy more effectively than those organizations that conduct business without clear and aligned objectives.

Alignment of goals throughout an organization generates significant obstacles when it comes to executing strategic business objectives. Many workers don’t know their company’s main objectives for the year, let alone how their own role and goals fit into the company’s overall strategy. Add to these issues the fact that a changing dynamic in the workplace introduces more flexible teams, new creative challenges, and revolutionary talent strategies — there’s a new dilemma in strategic goal-setting and how to plan for the future.

How Goal Science Supports Succession Planning

Roughly 49% of CEOs are 55 or older and are rapidly approaching retirement in the near or immediate future. A shift in executive leadership is the next business issue for many organizations.

With the reality of executive turnover, this constant threat of change and uncertainty can descend quickly upon the vitality and overall health of an organization. Having an effective plan of action can eliminate friction, ambiguity, and ease nerves to ensure a seamless transition of executive leadership. A good succession plan can also stabilize the energy and motivation of employees.

Goal-setting is a crucial part of crafting a useful succession plan. Establishing the right set of goals for future leadership is essential. New leaders should be aware of and challenged to live up to the high expectations of leadership within the organization. Even the highest levels of leadership have room to improve and grow their skill sets as they serve the mission, vision, and values — and business outcomes — of your organization. Once clear goals are set for the ideal leaders you want running your organization in the future, a deliberate, attainable path can be forged. Succession planning can help your organization in the future, as well as establish best practices throughout your organization today.

Are you setting up a succession plan or #CareerDevelopment plan? Let @InspireSoftware help you use the proper #GoalSetting method:Tweet This!

OKRs or SMART Goals

OKRs and SMART goals are two reasonably simple goal-setting methods. Let’s set the groundwork with definitions:

  • OKRs - Objectives and Key Results are a simple framework for defining and tracking objectives and their desired outcomes.
  • SMART Goals - SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Motivating, Achievable, Relevant, and Trackable. A SMART goal incorporates all of these criteria to help focus your efforts and increase the chances of achieving your goal.


Hailing from the tech atmosphere in Silicon Valley, OKR was born out of the agile movement. While the objective is usually less specific than a SMART goal, the Key Results portion is an exact measurement. What is different about OKR goals is the roadmap between the Objective and the Key Results.

OKRs often work well at the top of the organization, ensuring everyone is aligning with the company’s top priorities. What sets OKRs apart from other management methodologies is bottom-up planning, teams creating their OKRs, or contributing to the Key Results of company Objectives. Aligning to objectives across the company contributes to engagement and commitment throughout the organization.


SMART goals are set up by taking each objective and going through and determining if it passes the criteria before becoming an official goal. If you have to ask, is it specific? What is my motivational outlook while pursuing this goal? Is the objective attainable? Is my goal relevant to my role and to the organizational strategy? Are the key results of this goal trackable? Answering these questions helps individuals have better conversations with their managers about the pursuit of their goals and how they align to team and organizational strategy.

Both OKRs and SMART goals are used to great effectiveness in career development. Choosing which one your company wants to go with depends on how your business operates best.

The Promise of Leadership through Goals

Having a strategy for your organization’s success is a good thing. Having effective processes and systems in place to execute that strategy creates organizational excellence. When leadership is developed and cultivated at every level of an organization, the greater the opportunity for your organization to achieve a lasting success with its clients and its employees greatly increases. And finally, when leadership is practiced through regular conversations regarding organizational, team, and individual goals, employees are more productive, engaged, likely to endorse and stay with the organizations that develop this intentional pursuit of excellence.

Interested in learning more about how OKRs can help your company’s future? Join us for a live workshop in Austin, TX, on November 7 & 8. Register now!