[Interested in the details of how Learning Goals work, and how to create one? Read Learning Goals - Basics]

What is The Learning Goals System ?

The Learning Goals System is designed to help clients set leadership development goals that fit their needs and then make continual progress toward them. 

The system is a natural complement to the Leadership Assessment. Once you have gained a better understanding of your personal opportunities for growth,  you can seamlessly transitioning to making progress on them.

What are the principles behind Learning Goals?


The Learning Goals System is meant to be open and flexible.  The intention is to provide plenty of room for your coach's particular style and skills, and your own preferences on how to best pursue growth.

Specific and personal goals

Generally, we believe that leadership is best developed by setting goals that are as specific as possible. The concept of leadership is broad and often used as a buzzword.  Specificity ensures we stay on target.  Specific goals are small, manageable, and incremental steps in a positive direction.  Specific goals are also more apt to be measurable, an essential part of the process because it helps you and your coach see whether the progress you make resonates with your team. 

Goals should also be personal.   All leaders don't pursue the same path -- they’re not even reaching for the same peak.

SMART and iterative actions

Becoming a stronger leader involves a process of behavioral change, which is challenging. To develop better behaviors, one should experiment and then practice new actions (This is addressed by our "Actions" system).  Effective actions are typically S.M.A.R.T. : Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.  

We encourage you to pursue growth in an iterative fashion.  Seek many small steps versus one giant leap.  Smaller steps are easier and build upon each other.  In addition, each step offers the possibility of feedback which allows you to adjust course.  Even if you are capable of transformational leaps, you want to land on solid ground.

Frequent Feedback

Leadership by its essence involves deep and impactful relationships with others. To become a better leader, one needs to collect regular evidence to understand a range of things. For instance: what behaviors are effective for my short and long term goals?  How is my behavior perceived by others?  How can I develop better relationships, taking into account various  roles and communication styles?

We can't answer these questions through logic or genius alone - we need feedback from others.

As Steve Blank famously put it:  There are no facts inside the building.  In this particular case: the building is our own mind.  We need to regularly get out of our head, and hear from our stakeholders.  Coaches can help here - but if their primary source of data is their client, they are very limited. 

As such, the most crucial element of the system is powering the process of collecting regular feedback on our goals with the highest quality and ease.

Why should I pursue a Learning Goal?

Embrace the challenge! Becoming a better leader is hard and takes work. Your coach will work with you to set goals that are just outside your comfort zone. As you progress, what is new and strange and uncomfortable will become routine. This new normal then becomes a jumping off point for practicing new skills and behaviors that take you farther. 

There's a good analogy with personal training for professional athletes here:  the more you wish to excel,  the more structure and hard work is required.   The effort is worth it in terms of the quality of outcome. 

It would be hubris for a professional athlete to think they could reach their full potential without a structured plan and exceptional effort.   Is becoming an excellent professional leader any less challenging or complex? We say no.

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