Leaders MUST Focus On The Two Types of Goals
A Quick Primer on Lag and Lead Goals
By Kordell Norton
He was a seasoned professional with decades of managerial responsibilities, as he motivated his teams of 6 to 600 employees. Our conversation once again reminded me that a leader can be so busy that they sometimes need to sharpen their skills with basic management practices[i].
The Leader as a coach can benefit from understanding the difference between Lag and Lead Goals.
As I write this I am thinking about the wedding of one of my sons that occurs in the month. I want to lose ten pounds for the wedding pictures. To hit that goal I know I am going to have to replace high calorie foods with low caloric meals. The carbohydrates, dairy, and meat will need a substitute of multiple servings of fruits and vegetables.
If I eat the 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, which is something that I can influence and . . .with the help of a tracking sheet on the refrigerator, I can predict a new found focus. This new eating behavior will LEAD me toward the goal of lost weight at the end of the month when I get on the scales. That weigh-in will LAG behind the weekly activites that LEAD me to the bigger goal.
For the example
- Lead Goals = eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables will lead me to the bigger goal.
- Lag Goals = the easy to measure, end goal that lags behind the total results of the smaller goals all added together. When I step on the scales I will know if I have, or have not reached the goal.
LAG Goals are:
- They are easy to measure. You either make it or you don’t.
- Then often are associated with The Big Goal (hence the term “Big Hairy Audacious Goal . . . or BHAG)
- They tend to extend out over a longer period of time.
- They are often seen as “Team” or “Organization” goals.
LEAD Goals are:
- Predictable and Influencable. They lead to the bigger, LAG goal. The question is asked, “what two or three things can you do to move you toward the bigger goal?”
- Shorter term, usually a week or less in nature.
- These are often the efforts of an individual, and sometimes a Team.
The experienced Leader[ii] asks the subordinate early in the week, “what are the two or things you are going to do this week (Leading Objectives and/or Actions) to move you (and your team) toward the bigger goal?
Then what does the leader do one week later? They ask, “So how did you do with your (LEAD) goal last week?”
And then, “What are your plans for the coming week to lead toward the bigger goal?”
ü Sits ups LEAD to stronger bodies which LEAD to harder hits which LEAD to the Super Bowl (the LAG Goal)
ü Learning to read music LEADS to practice with LEADS to recitals which LEAD to Carnegie Hall (The LAG)
ü Going to work early LEADS to leading the team which LEADS to a promotion to earn a family vacation to Disney World (The LAG)
In conclusion, the Leader must keep everyone focused on the bigger goals (LAG Goals) by referencing them while coaching individuals and teams with the pharse, “what are you doing this week to lead you to the bigger goal?”
[i] I find the phrase, “you can’t teach an old dog a new trick” to be completely wrong. It is the old dog that appreciates the new trick! Which brings us to an old concept and the new trick on how to use a basic practice to make your organization zip and zing.
[ii] Is it not comical that the same word “lead” has a meaning of moving toward, action, being, becoming and a secondary definition of a heavy, gray, toxic metal? If someone does not lead, or chooses to not be lead, then they end up becoming lead, the proverbial speed bump. So, get the lead out . . . and lead (grin).