Summary: If you don't have an overarching medium term goal you'll never hit your long term objectives. Here's how to set a compelling medium term goal.
Listen to Les McKeown read this blog post:
I’ve noticed one thing that consistently sets great leaders apart from the merely ‘good’: They have a pervasive sense of groundedness.
Discussions with truly great leaders are rarely unhinged forays into the unknown, and their day-to-day activities are seldom isolated events, unmoored from everything else.
Quite the contrary – with great leaders, there is a palpable underlying sense of linkage, a connectedness in their thoughts, words and actions that taken together, weaves whole cloth.
Listen to and watch a great leader over time, and you’ll see that each individual move they make builds on the others, like a well-played chess game, ultimately delivering a focussed, planned outcome.
At the heart of this sense of groundedness – this ability to ‘connect the dots’ in each discussion and in every action, moving seamlessly toward an envisioned conclusion – is something I’ve come to recognize over and over again in great leaders. I call it the Overarching Medium Term Goal (OMG), and it's a cornerstone of the Predictable Success leadership model.
Great leaders know what their OMG is, and it sits front and foremost in their minds. They focus on it when they start their day, it provides the glue that links together everything they do and say during the day, and at the end of the day they reflect on how closer they are to achieving it.
Of course, for some great leaders this all happens at a subliminal level – they may not use this (or any) vocabulary to describe the process, they may not even be overtly conscious of its workings, but for them, it happens in any case.
"Great leaders know what their Overarching Medium Term Goal (OMG) is, and it sits front and foremost in their minds." - Les McKeown, Founder and CEO, Predictable Success
For the rest of us, it helps to make the process conscious and planned, so here are four principles that will help you set your very own OMG:
1. You can only have one Overarching Medium Term Goal at a time.
By the nature of an Overarching Medium Term Goal, you can only have one at a time. While it will certainly change over time (usually over months or perhaps years, but not weeks), two OMG's cannot co-exist, for reasons we’ll see in a moment.
2. Your Overarching Medium Term Goal sits below your overall mission, vision and values, but above individual strategies.
Your Overarching Medium Term Goal should be the single largest transformational challenge you currently face in achieving your overall mission.
That OMG sits below my overall mission (to generate lifestyle-supporting income while maintaining a high degree of freedom and autonomy), but above the individual strategies and tactics I’m implementing (speaking, coaching, even writing this article).
Leaders I’ve worked with recently have had OMG's as varied as -
- changing their entire product line from wood to aluminium;
- finding a business partner or competitor to merge with,
- switching funding sources from grant support to supporter donations, and
- designing and launching an e-commerce arm to their bricks and mortar retail business.
All these OMG's are subservient to their respective organization's overall mission, and all dictate major strategy and tactical shifts.
3. Your daily activities flow from Your Overarching Medium Term Goal.
Unlike an overall mission, your Overarching Medium Term Goal should be specific, concrete and medium term enough to enable the prioritization of your daily activities.
For example, in what way is this meeting helping you get closer to your OMG? If it isn’t, then should you really be here?
How does your Overarching Medium Term Goal color the data you read, the people you speak with, the conversations you’re having, the decisions you’re making?
That’s not to say there won’t be other, non-OMG related activities you’ll have to engage in each day – leadership involves a fair amount of maintenance as well as forward motion – but with an Overarching Medium Term Goal now clearly defined, you’ll be more acutely aware of the opportunity cost of those activities, and you may well begin to find creative ways to reduce their impact on your limited resources.
4. By default, Your Overarching Medium Term Goal should be shared.
Unless there are acute diplomatic reasons not to do so (if your OMG is to move your entire production overseas, for example), it’s best to share your Overarching Medium Term Goal with others, for two reasons:
(1) Transparency is always good, and builds your character and reputation as a leader; and
(2) OMG's are (usually) motivational in nature, so why lose that juice with your team?
Take a little time to reflect on what your Overarching Medium Term Goal is (or should be) right now – it shouldn’t take more than five minutes to do – then take it out for a spin tomorrow. You may be surprised at the impact it has.