Leaders Set Personal Development Goals

Personal development goals at work are essential for leaders in order to grow and develop in your career. This may include learning new skills, familiarizing yourself with company practices, policies, and technology, or getting feedback from others. Whatever personal development goals you choose, they must—

1. Be achievable

2. Be measurable

Here are two formats I use for personal development goals:

First, determine a characteristic to you want to develop, and define its opposite. Then use one of these formats:

In [time frame], I will be less [characteristic] and more [characteristic] by [tangible behavior, with optional frequency]. This can be measured by [measurement].


In [time frame], I will do less [behavior of undesirable characteristic] and more [behavior of desirable characteristic]. This will be measured by [measurement].

Here are a couple of examples:

1) I need to have a better and more positive attitude toward the mundane parts of my job, because I’m noticeably negative and annoyed by them. (Characteristic you want to develop and it’s opposite.)

So, I want to be less negative, and more positive.

By the end of the year (time frame), I will be less negative (characteristic) and more positive (characteristic) by never complaining about processing renewals (tangible behavior). This can be measured by counting the number of times I complain; my goal is zero (measurement).


By the end of the month (time frame), I will do less complaining about processing renewals (behavior of undesirable characteristic), and smile more when people are around while I’m doing it (behavior of desirable characteristic). I’ll measure this by counting the times I complain (shooting for zero) and asking Wally if he sees me smiling when he comes in (measurement).

2) I need to return calls and emails on time. So, I want to be more responsive, and less unresponsive. (Characteristic you want to develop and it’s opposite.)

Starting next week (time frame), I will be less unresponsive (characteristic) and more responsive (characteristic) by returning emails within 4 hours and calls within an hour (tangible behavior with optional frequency). This can be measured by noting my response time for each phone call and email or by noting the number of times I fail to meet those timelines (measurement).


Starting now (time frame), I will do less ignoring emails and letting calls wait a week to be returned (behavior of undesirable characteristic), and doing more of immediately returning communications (behavior of desirable characteristic). This can be measured by noting the percentage of calls and emails I return within a day (measurement).

Once you have your goal written down, smooth out the wording so it makes more sense. Be sure the specific behaviors, time frame, and measurement are still a part of it.

Examples of your finalized personal development goal:

1) By the end of the month, I will be more obviously positive about my mundane work by smiling while I do it, and never complaining. Because we share an office space, I’ll ask Wally to see if he notices my smile or hears any complaints.

2) Starting now, I’m going to return calls within an hour and emails within four hours. At the end of each day before I leave, I’ll review my inboxes to make sure I followed through.

In a nutshell:

Timeframe, I will do less [thing] and more [thing] and here’s how I’ll measure it.

Thanks for reading,

Alan Feirer

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