7 Ways to Rise Above Pie in the Sky

Long-term goals are delusions, if you can’t produce results, now.

Leaders deceive themselves, and others, with pie-in-the-sky goals. The light at the end of your tunnel is a train, headed in your direction, if you can’t explain what results look like and how to get them, now.

light at the end of the tunnel

Trying harder:

Trying harder is the typical first response, when results disappoint.

Trying harder, when you’re already working hard, doesn’t improve results. It discourages teams.

Can you explain why more effort, more time, or more resources will make a difference?

7 ways to rise above pie-in-the-sky:

  1. Redefine results.
  2. Replace key team-members.
  3. Clarify behaviors that actually work.
  4. Focus on factors within your control.
  5. Evaluate processes and procedures.
  6. Eliminate bottlenecks.
  7. Set short-term goals.

The benefit of long-term dreams is direction.

The advantage of short-term goals is action.

Set short-term goals when:

  1. Times are turbulent.
  2. Results are uncertain.
  3. Performance is disappointing.
  4. Teammates are untested or inexperienced.
  5. Important success factors are beyond your control.
  6. Behaviors that produce results are ambiguous.
  7. Circumstances constantly change.
  8. New products or services are introduced.
  9. Product track-records are short or confusing.
  10. Projects or initiatives have never been tried before.


Listen to excuses and blaming, when results disappoint. Leaders who say, “I don’t want to hear excuses,” miss opportunities to deal with poor-performers, improve processes, or clarify key success factors. Most importantly, they miss opportunities to set short-term goals.

The next time someone offers an excuse, ask:

  1. What behaviors answer your concern?
  2. How are we doing the wrong thing?
  3. How can we do the right thing?
  4. Who can solve this?
  5. When can we follow-up on this issue?

When results disappoint, more of the same, produces more of the same.

How can leaders rise above pie-in-the-sky thinking?

How can leaders get the most from excuses and blaming?