The Best Leaders Have Clear Goals

By | February 29, 2020

[February 29, 2020]  If there is one thing in life that is certain it’s that you don’t get something you don’t aim for.  A few, less skilled leaders will not specific their goals because it is “too hard” or unpleasant.  The reason for having clear goals, however, is to have standards that specify what it is failure and success.1

Psychology Professor Jordan Peterson of the University of Toronto talks about this issue.  He notes that by having fuzzy, unspecified goals, we cannot know when we fail, and that makes us feel better in the short term.  On the other hand, he says that when we organize the world around our aims, we can see the world better.  Our brain functions better when we know where we are going and we are better off in the long run.

The idea of having clear and realistic goals in life is no trivial matter.  Practically speaking, we have many goals, and some are high goals.  One example of a goal is to become a good person.  Anyone having this goal ideally translates it into knowing how to constrain our own inner-evil and work to decrease our laziness, complacency, dishonesty, and cynicism.

The best leaders have clear goals.  They also can disassemble their primary goals (like to be a good leader) into micro-actions that they can work on every day.  This explicit goal setting gives dignity to what they are doing.

One technique is creating a sustainable schedule of things that need doing.  For a real leader, this can mean designing their time that they would like to have that takes care of people in their charge.  Some of this schedule is simple; get up early, exercise, eat well, put on a positive attitude, and go out into the world without too much fear.

“Our life is a story with a goal and a purpose and a beginning.” – Dr. Jordan Peterson, University of Toronto

Another method is to write a plan for the future.  Part of that plan would be for the leader to take care of himself or herself, as well as taking care of others.  This ‘plan for the future’ means creating a vision of the world for several years down the road.  Things to consider are family, friends, career, education, and health.  Figuring out how this would look in the future is what the great leaders can successfully accomplish.

Regardless how or what technique a leader uses, what they recognize the most is that the first things they must deal with are those things they have the power to fix.  After that, the world is open.


  1. Leaders ask themselves every day, “What kind of leader do I want to be?” Here’s a start – “This is how not to be a pathetic leader” (see link here).  And here, “Want to be a Leader? Be Honest” (see link here).
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

17 thoughts on “The Best Leaders Have Clear Goals

  1. Greg Heyman

    Good article on an important subject that is often overlooked because it seems so obvious.

  2. Darryl Sitterly

    Have a plan (and clear goals)
    Have a back up plan (plan B)
    That way you are covered and are responsible for what happens or doesn’t happen.

  3. Drew Dill

    Tom Steyer: The billionaire Democratic donor has decided to enter the arena. He first rose to political prominence for his focus on combating climate change, and started a crusade to convince congressional Democrats to impeach Trump. Steyer is positioning himself as a (well-funded) outsider running against a host of lifelong politicians.
    —– Just an example of how bad the Democrats are. I didn’t even know he was running until I accidentally turned on the debates the other day.

    1. Nancy B

      When you have no ideas, just say you’re for climate change action. Every liberal in the nation will love you, Hollywood stars will praise you, and college students (pretty girls?) will fall all over you. Now we know why young men are for climate change action.

  4. Yusaf from Texas

    “Another method is to write a plan for the future. ” Gee, what a novel concept (insert laughing here). If you don’t plan for the future and have a vision of how you plan to carry it out, then shame on you for failing yourself. Too many of my friends just drift from day to day. Unacceptable. They will continue down that track until something hits them upside their head to force them to change direction to a planned future.

    1. Kenny Foster

      So true about so many people. Perhaps that is why young folks today love socialism (or should I call it by the PC term “democratic socialism”). They want someone else to be their daddy.

    2. Jonnie the Bart

      You my daddy! You (the government bureaucrats) my daddy. How awful that idea is to any sane person.
      Oh, just take a look at what Bernie Sanders has been saying about what he has been saying. Oh, look at this video posted by Gen. Satterfield earlier today.

      1. José Luis Rodriguez

        Too funny. I have been following the Democrat debates and they are terrible to follow. Lots of screaming, insults flying, but no substance whatsoever.

  5. Linux Man

    Another spot-on article but I did have to read it twice. Thank you Gen. Satterfield for your daily bit of leadership. Oh, I hope you get to feeling better and take care of that little problem you have. ?

  6. Fred Weber

    Took me a while to go back and read all the posts this week. So now, I’m caught up. Just too busy during the week to get all this in. I do like the format here and the shortness of the articles. Haven’t seen a guest contributor in a few weeks but that is okay. Keep those blog posts coming our way.

    1. Jake Tapper, Jr.

      Good comment and I agree. I’m also in your situation but I do try and read some during the week. What I would like to suggest is that Gen. Satterfield give us an article or two on the coronavirus and the failure of national leaders to properly deal with it.

  7. Harry Donner

    Cool article. Gen. Satterfield, you almost made me want to be a philosopher (ha ha ha ha). I’ll stick with being a regular business owner and manager. That means “leader” in my book.

  8. Janna Faulkner

    I just love the YouTube videos of Dr. Peterson. I’m glad you have quoted him and used his ideas. Thanks, Gen. Satterfield.

    1. Lady Hawk

      Dr. JP has hundreds of videos of him giving talks about how to make yourself a better, more satisfied person. I like that. Just go below on any of those videos and spend a few minutes reading the comments. Like, none of them are negative, only good positive comments. ?

      1. Tom Bushmaster

        I’m also a big fan of Dr. Peterson and have recommended him to many others in my family. They all thanked me greatly.

    2. JT Patterson

      Good comment Janna. I too have spent time listening and learning from Dr. P on many topics. I especially like his Biblical series. If you’ve not heard him on this, then I highly recommend you do. Those videos are long (usually about an hour each) but they are very informative and give some wonderful background material.

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