Successful leaders focus on what they want to achieve and plan how they are going to get there. The skill to set accountability through clear goals and planning are important to leadership in life, work and the Club.

In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland: Alice asks the Cheshire Cat

“Would you please tell me which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a great deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat

“I don’t care where – -” said Alice

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat

Unless we are clear where we want to get to (what our goals are), it is harder to plan a route and ensure we get to our right destination. We can wander unnecessarily in the wilderness.

A survey of Harvard University graduates in 1979 showed that only 3% had clear written goals on graduating. Some 10 years later, that 3% were found to earn ten times more than the other 97% put together.


Goals do not have to be complex or cast in stone. They are a desired destination for success. The most successful people set SMARTA GOALS

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action oriented
  • Realistic/resourced
  • Timed (with start and finish dates)
  • Agreed (with all involved)

 Compare – To be a better club with                                                                                                                                                   To have met all the criteria to be a President’s Distinguished Club by June 30th 2016 with the full agreement and involvement of members

 Or – To improve my speaking with

I agree, starting with my next speech, to practice my delivery at least ten times to ensure the right pace and check the timing is right.

Implementing Goals

Setting goals and implementing them is like making a promise and keeping it. It is about integrity.

  1. As goals need to be agreed, it is important to involve team members in setting them. This helps gain ownership and commitment. Also two heads are better than one in creating the goals.
  2. Writing each goal down helps clarify thinking and establish accountability. It makes it easier to keep track of progress.
  3. Consider what you need to do to achieve the goal and what may prevent you. Having a clear plan will increase the likelihood of success.
  4. Regularly review progress toward the goal and make adjustments or problem solve as required to stay on track.


Fail to plan, plan to fail. A plan describes how a goal will be achieved and gives you structure. Otherwise it can be like going on a car journey, knowing your destination, but  without a route to get there. Planning can:

  • Reinforce goals by putting it in the forefront of focus
  • Make leaders more future-focused
  • Improve decision making through greater consideration of the consequences
  • Ensure better use of resources and a more productive process

Five Steps to Planning

Having determined your goals, planning has five essential steps.

  1. Establish strategies and the essential steps you need to take to achieve those goals
  2. Set a timetable with priorities and scheduling for completion of each stage
  3. Assign responsibilities as you may not be able to achieve the goal alone. Good teamwork in a Club can help achieve so much more. As an individual, this is where your mentor can really help you.
  4. Anticipate those things that may stop you and build in contingencies to remove them before they do.
  5. Be prepared to modify the plan if necessary.


Goal setting and planning are your destination and route map to success. They are the key skills of an effective leader. The time and effort required are well worth it.

For more detail: visit  The Toastmaster International Leadership Excellence Series

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