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Setting Leadership Goals that Matter

Posted by Grace Lee on Jun 20, 2013 9:54:00 PM


As a school board, what do you really want?

The School Board will greatly enhance the effectiveness of its chief administrator by setting goals that matter, where there is consensus regarding the value that is created and the relevance to the role. Can you create a commonly agreed upon way to measure success so that the chief administrator knows how to win? The chief needs and wants goals that create focus, priorities, balance, and energy. At the end of this session, participants will understand how to set measurable goals that will grow the organization, how to gain agreement on the goals, and the best methods for communicating expectations. We will build a bridge from vision to incremental milestones that move toward that desired reality.


The goal of this seminar is to share ideas and spark conversation with boards and Chief Administrators around best practices for fostering a great relationship, especially in the area of setting goals and expectations.

Here are some questions every board should ask about their evaluation method:

  • Is the board a builder or a bottleneck to the Chief’s future? Are you enabling where they want to go as a professional or inhibiting it?

  • Does the board support a healthy balance between work and family life? Sometimes the board may be putting the Chief in a situation where it is hard to maintain that balance.

  • What behaviors as a board are you modeling? Are you managing the board culture? Are you communicating about the strategic plan in a way that is modeling the best modes of leadership performance for your head to follow? Or is it more of a, "Do as I say, not as I do?”

  • Are you building strengths or compounding weaknesses?

It is important for a board to be able to answer those questions clearly. The most effective boards are practicing those behaviors, self-evaluate and seek outside assessment, and model good habits for setting goals.



There are many different rubrics and tools, but how do you confidently know if the Chief is really being effective? Sometimes feedback is vague and from a personal experience rather than what was agreed upon on how they will keep score and make progress. This makes it hard for the Chief Administrator when they don’t know how to evaluate whether they are being effective and can’t discern what the strategies are to be most effective. The board needs to define desired outcomes and results.

There are polarities that create tension against each other in making these decisions. Three of these polarities are:

  • Thorough vs. Focused

  • Outcomes vs. Conditions

  • Ideal vs. Incremental


The Commander’s Intent

“If we did nothing else, we must ______.” That is the statement we want to drive at when setting leadership goals that matter. This is commander’s intent: being very clear in expectations of what we want, and giving leadership the responsibility for developing a plan they can communicate to the board, and also be able to adjust if needed. Things change and you have to have a plan that responds to that change yet still accomplishes outcomes.


Our Recommended Method:

P.O.S.S.E. Method for Planning and Goal-Setting

  • Purpose - This is the one sentence that expresses that high level definition of what success looks like. The more concretely you can express this statement, the better focus and motivation you will provide for your Chief Administrator.

  • Objectives - These are the quantifiable results. What are the things that we can accomplish to fulfil our purpose? We recommend no more than 10 objectives for the year.

  • Strategy - These are the methods and the means used to maximize the probability of achieving the objectives. This is the “how” and becomes a dialogue with the Chief Administrator to say, “Given these objectives, what would you do to accomplish them, and how can we best support you in that process?” 

  • Schedule - What are the sequence of events, with assigned points of accountability, that will be used to accomplish our goals? As a board, you want to put yourself in the best position to support your Chief’s success.

  • Expectations - What are the conditions of satisfaction? What will we look at and say, “We would be thrilled if this happened.”

These are the components that can be used to provide goals and a plan that really matters and is motivating for the Chief Administrator for the school.



Building up the future for the school and chief is vital, so as you’re setting goals, here are criteria to look for: 

  • Are we building up for the future of the school and the chief in these goals?

  • Are we really enabling balance, or margin, for the chief, so that our leader has the energy and motivation needed to be most successful?

  • Do we have quantitative and specific measurements that are valid?

  • Are we allowing autonomy to adjust the plan?

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