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  • Writer's pictureKayla Morse Higgs

Doing Too Much: The Leadership Trap of Over-Initiating

Updated: Jun 24

In the world of leadership, especially within schools, school districts, nonprofits, and companies, there's a common trap many fall into: doing too much. Leaders often launch numerous initiatives or embark on barely formed ones, lacking a clear desired state and manageable movement within a given time period. This approach can be overwhelming and counterproductive.

The Pitfall of Outcome-Focused Goals

When working with organizations, I've noticed a pattern. They set ambitious quantitative goals, aiming to achieve significant outcomes. While these goals are commendable, they often lack a crucial element: a well-defined process that nurtures both the organization and the people within it. Outcome-focused goals alone are not enough. Goals need to describe the internal and collective processes we will engage in to achieve them.

The Importance of Process in Goal-Setting

As leaders, it's essential to pay attention to the process when creating new goals with your teams. The journey to achieving a goal is just as important as the goal itself. By structuring goals to include both specific actions and expected outcomes, you create a more sustainable and effective path to success.

Here's a practical way to structure your goals:

If [name specific agents of change] [insert the action that will create desired impact], then [insert outcome you expect to see different within a given time period].

Example Goal Structure

Consider this example:

“If project managers design a responsive system of communication that focuses on follow-up and follow-through of tasks, then we will have more consistent programming that is well-resourced, intentional, and results in increased participation from our target audience.”

“We will measure our progress using these 3-4 data points....”

  • Data Measure/Source #1

  • Data Measure/Source #2

  • Data Measure/Source #3

Then you can outline your Key Progress Indicators (KPIs) that you expect to see throughout the time period from there. This ensures that while data measures are named and tracked, the focus remains on the process required to achieve the goal.

Moving Forward

Next time you're setting goals, take a moment to reflect on the process. Engage your team in discussions about how you will achieve your goals, not just what the goals are. By doing this, you foster growth within your organization and empower your team to work more effectively.

Remember, it's not about doing more; it's about doing it right. Focus on clear, manageable steps that lead to sustainable progress. This approach will help you avoid the trap of over-initiating and create a more resilient and thriving organization.

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