Leadership SMART Goals and how to make them SMARTER

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

Most organizations are good about setting goals at the start of their fiscal year: what outcomes do they hope to achieve at the individual and organizational level? But do we always set the right goals? And do we take steps to make sure we’re actively working to achieve those goals?

At The Leadership Program we adopted the practice of setting “SMART” goals some years ago, and it really made a difference in our success in achieving those goals. SMART goals, associated with George T. Doran, Peter Drucker, and others and used for decades, are commonly used to as a tool to embark on better goal setting. Recently, that acronym has expanded to become SMARTER, and we’ve followed suit. The best part is, there are a few variations on what some of the letter stand for, so you can really hone in on what’s best for your organization. We’ve decided to include of the variations we could find to help you get there.

Here’s a breakdown of the SMARTER steps, as well as some questions to ask yourself to get yourself ready for SMARTER goal setting:

S = Specific

  • Ask yourself who, what, when, where, why, and how as many times as you need, to ensure you’ve made your goal as specific as possible. Details, details, details! Look at each part of every goal and keep refining it until there are no details left unanswered.  

M = Measurable 

  • How will you know when you’ve achieved your goal? When is it done? In order for a goal to be measurable you have to understand what the “end” is: do you need a certain number? A specific amount?

A = Action-oriented/Attainable/Agreed

  • Action-Oriented: What will you do to drive this goal forward? How will you make it a reality? How can you take action to ensure success? What specific steps will you take?
  • Attainable: Is this a goal that is actually attainable within the allotted time-frame?
  • Agreed: Is your team on-board with the goal? Your supervisor?

R = Realistic/Relevant

  • Realistic: Really, you’re going to do this thing? Is your supervisor on board with the goal? Does it align with the larger company priorities?
  • Relevant: How does this goal align with the current priorities of your department? Your company? Your clients? Your industry? Your community?

T = Timely/Time-bound

  • Can you realistically accomplish this in one year, and also not be done by next Friday? Does the goal fit within the designated time-frame?

E = Evocative/Evaluate/Enjoyable

  • Evocative: Who cares? Why does this goal matter? Why should people get on board with you?
  • Evaluate: At what point(s) throughout the designated timeframe will you evaluate your goal achievement? How will you measure it? What tools will you use?
  • Enjoyable: What can you do to ensure that working toward this goal is enjoyable for you and the team working on it?

R = Resourced/Re-Do/Reward

  • Resourced: What resources are available to you in order to achieve the goal?
  • Re-do: When you evaluate your goal progress, what steps will you take to re-do your goal when necessary? How will you make necessary changes to ensure ultimate success?
  • Reward: Once the goal is accomplished, how will you reward your success?

Write SMART goals Now


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Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.