How to Set Soft Goals and Measure Soft Results
Achieving results is a walk in the park compared to navigating the fuzzy side of leadership. Measuring success is even more difficult.
The soft stuff:
- Building relationships.
- Managing energy.
- Staying curious.
Technical skills become less valuable and relational skills become more valuable the longer you lead.
Overcoming feelings of hypocrisy:
It feels insincere to measure the relational aspect of leadership. For example, setting a goal to have a two minute conversation with three employees may seem fake or manipulative.
Intention and motivation answer concerns about setting goals around the soft side of leadership.
- Be transparent with intention. ‘I’m working to be a better connector.’
- Reflect on motivation. Perhaps mutual enrichment is enough motivation to elevate you above feeling like a hypocrite because you set a goal of three personal conversations a day.
- Accept, even express frailties. ‘I’m just not good at showing appreciation. I’m working on it this month. I feel appreciative. It’s just hard to express.’
Transparency answers feelings of hypocrisy when learning new behaviors.
- Ask two questions before making any statements.
- Go on a gratitude walkabout three times a week.
- Learn what motivates the people on your team – one person a day.
- Monitor energy in individuals. Inquire when you see energy dip or rise. ‘What just happened for you?’
Measuring the soft stuff:
It feels awkward to measure the relationship side of leadership. Maybe you feel like a hypocrite to set a goal of building a new relationship this month. Add the aspect that relationships are two sided affairs and it becomes even more difficult.
When it comes to the soft stuff:
- Measure behaviors. ‘I’m giving one personal affirmation every day.’
- Explore impact. Are people more or less energized when you’re around, for example?
- Enjoy results.
What is some of the soft stuff of leadership?
How might leaders set goals and measure progress when it comes to the soft stuff?
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Empathy is needed to overcome the feelings of hypocrisy when setting deliberate goals to connect with others.
Thanks Albert. Great add. Empathy definitely connects with authenticity.
This may be my favorite post in the time I’ve been reading your blog! The longer you lead, the more important relational skills are, for sure. My biggest challenge at this phase of my development is to be more aware of my impact on how others feel when we interact. I suspect the overachiever in me may leave others feeling badly. Or just exhausted! And I think we can’t remind ourselves enough to find things to appreciate and be grateful for throughout the day, every day. So thank you for this post!
Thanks Anon. It’s a pleasure to be of service.
One thing that I’ve found is to dial back my enthusiasm to make space for others. I don’t mean that we shouldn’t be passionate. But, I’ve found if I calm myself a bit, it makes room for others.
Best for the journey.
I’m not in a leadership position, but I’ve been working to leave people feeling better than when I found them as well. I started by vocalizing the sincere compliments that I’d normally keep to myself.
I thought the measurement of this would be Do people seek out contact with me more often? But I’m not sure that’s an appropriate measurement because so many variables factor in. I guess the measurement is just whether I feel I’ve done well.
Dan, This is really a good post. Thanks for sharing! I have attempted to measure my leadership behaviour and corresponding improvements. I was able to suggest a few friends to measure their leadership behaviour as well. Your post seems to be very close to a checklist that I created. Thanks again!
Hello Dan. I can really connect with this article. As an engineer, one of the greatest challenges was to move from an engineer to leader. Rios to being in leadership, I was solving “hard” challenges. And when I say “hard,” I mean those challenges you could immediately measure and put your hands on. Fixing a piece of equipment, designed a new product, or solving a testing failure. There was immediate and tangible feedback. With leadership, the results come and the challenges are real, but the process is many times “fuzzy.” I can coach several people on the same challenges, but they may take different paths to success. And these softer sides to success don’t come by checking a box, reading a book, changing a formula, or resist Inc a part. It is very much about changing and influencing a person’s beliefs and attitudes.