Archive | October, 2015

WISE and SMART goals

We have all heard of the SMART goals framework, whereby Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound goals lead to laser focus 0n results and accomplishments.

Goals, by themselves are important for success and productivity. Those who have goals are more successful and productive than those who do not have goals; self-concordant goals have even been shown to be helpful to well being. If you make goals SMART enough they will surely lead to desired results, right?

Unfortunately no! SMART goals may make you accomplish things, but may also leave you drained, demotivated or pursuing the goals that are not conducive to long term sustainability.

An alternative, or additive, to SMART goals framework is having WISE goals. What follows is my definition of a WISE goal:

Worthy: the goal should be meaningful and worthy of your effort and attention.

Inspiring: when you look at the goal you should not feel drained, but inspired to achieve it.

Stretching: the goal should stretch you just beyond your comfort zone/ skill level to ensure that you experience Flow while executing it.

Energizing: The goal while executing and when accomplished should leave you energized and looking forward to doing similar stuff again, rather than drained and deflated.

So next time you set goals for yourself or others consider not just whether they are SMART, but whether they are WISE too!

Leadership Distilled -part III

In our earlier posts we have looked at Barbara’s CQ model, Gallup’s leadership domains and Michigan Model of Leadership to arrive at four main functions/ traits of a good leader.  These are elaborated below:

  1. Hand / Executing themes/ Task focus
  2. Heart/ Relationship building themes/People focus
  3. Head/ Strategic thinking themes/ Strategic focus
  4. Voice/ Influencing themes/ Cultural focus

It always heartens me when I see multiple streams of research converging and coming to the same conclusions.


Its instructive to note that as per Michigan Model of Leadership (MMoL), the four key behaviors identified are Empathy (people quadrant) , Drive (results or task quadrant), Courage (culture of innovation quadrant) and Integrity (strategic structures quadrant) . These are theorized to lead to good leadership behavior.

Now, if proof was needed, a study by KRW International, a leadership consultancy, that looked at four character traits of leaders, found overwhelming support for the effectiveness of those traits in identifying good leaders.

KRW, looked at four universal character traits that they identified from anthropological data.  These were Integrity (mapping to integrity in MMoL or strategic focus), Responsibility (drive in MMoL or task focus), Forgiveness(Courage in MMoL {imho you require courage to forgive especially if you want to  encourage innovation in this quadrant} or culture focus), and Compassion (empathy in MMoL or people focus).

What they found was striking- those top 10 executives who were high in these traits or were virtuoso’s , their firms were giving 5 time the return on assets than the firms of CEO’s who were in bottom 10 on these traits and were self-focused.

The details about these results are covered in HBR and Fast Company.

To quote:

According to KRW International, a leadership consultancy, CEOs whose characters were highly rated by employees had an average return on assets of 9.35% over a two-year period, almost five times as much as CEOs with low scores whose return on assets averaged just 1.93%.

To me this is converging evidence of the power of the hands, heart, head and voice metaphor of effective leadership and this study is proof enough of the sound business logic behind hiring such leaders or promoting such behaviors.