Set effective objectives, goals and targets to avoid falling off a cliff.

Having a deep sense of confidence in your own judgment and abilities can often be at odds with reality. Just as a lack of confidence is a problem, too much confidence leads us to only focus on the good while ignoring the bad. This often leads to poor decision-making and sometimes catastrophic errors.

Take Elon Musk, for example. Would you describe him as being overconfident in his abilities to manage Twitter? If yes, how would you recommend he set boundaries and objectives to manage his confidence levels?

We often mistakenly equate confidence with competence. In many cases, a person is confident because they are extremely competent. However, this confidence can be conveyed in a number of ways. Leaders who are self-deprecating, slow to decide and open to new data and points of view tend to be quietly confident and simply exude confidence through their very presence in a meeting.

Overconfident leaders, however, are often about ego. They have a chip on their shoulder, they are looking to prove something, and they may have the desire to be seen as a hero or contrarian beating the odds. They persist in their endeavours regardless of the facts and get locked into proving to the world that they are the only ones who can deliver.

Ironically, a strong dose of overconfidence helps when founding a start-up. Belief in ourselves, regardless of our capabilities, overcomes our fear of failure, allows us to ignore the naysayers and empowers us to commit regardless of the hurdles we face.

On the other hand, overconfidence among the leadership of a mature business is a recipe for disaster. Leaders who don’t question their own judgment rarely grow, and they fail to adjust to changing circumstances in time to make a meaningful course correction.

There’s a balance to be found. There is nothing wrong with confidence as long as it is balanced out by humility and tools that support good decision-making, telling us when we have tipped into hoping for an outcome rather than working for it.

Objectives, goals and targets are powerful tools that enable us to clearly see reality

Understanding how to use objectives, goals and targets effectively mitigates risk, improves decision-making and, most importantly, allows us to learn in real-time.

Objectives are what we want to achieve to support the mission of the business. They are best understood as a statement of intended outcome, often focusing on improving, maintaining or reducing impact. A good objective sets the agenda, direction and focus of the team. It acts as a call to action which rallies the team to engage and act to make the business succeed.

Examples of objectives:

  1. To keep the company profitable and healthy to create job security and stakeholder value.
  2. To eliminate product returns and improve customer happiness.
  3. To organically grow sales profitability and increase profits.

Once the objectives have been defined, it is time to determine the goals and targets that will be used to measure whether the objective has been achieved. A target is used to measure the degree of success and is often a key performance indicator (KPI), while a goal is a definitive “yes or no” indicator that determines whether or not the objective has been achieved.

For each objective, set one or more targets and goals to help measure your progress towards that objective.

Examples of objectives with targets and goals:

  1. To keep the company profitable and healthy to create job security and stakeholder value.
    • Target: $1 million monthly revenue.
    • Target: 50% gross margin
    • Target: 20% revenue expenses
    • Goal: 18% net operating profit
  2. To eliminate product returns and improve customer happiness.
    • Target: 0% product quality issues by implementing a QA process.
    • Target: 0% monthly customer return authorisation.
    • Goal: 20% increase in CSAT score.
  3. To organically grow sales profitability and increase profits.
    • Target: 20% quarterly increase in sales.
    • Goal: 20% annual increase in net profit.

Targets are used to measure your progress along the way towards reaching the goal. If targets are not tracking in accordance with your plan, then adjustments can be made, including changing the objective if need be.

Confident leadership will set bold objectives for the team to rally around. Objectives set the direction of the team, but if it is not signposted effectively, it is easy to run off a cliff.

Targets and goals are signposts to let you know that you are headed in the right direction and that you have arrived when your team is successful. You could argue that the targets and goals are way more important than the objective itself.


We all want to follow confident leaders who set objectives for us to achieve.

It is critical that, as a team, we break objectives down into specific targets and goals that can be measured to inform the leadership and team that we are travelling in the right direction. Even the most overconfident leader can be managed upwards with clear, well-defined targets and goals. There is nothing like hard data to inject a dose of reality into the conversation.

Similarly, systems that support decision-making are critical when assessing targets and goals. Businesses that use a single system for workflow, CRM, supply chain, manufacturing and accounting produce real-time reports, KPIs and dashboards. Real-time error-free data leads to improved decision-making.

We hope we have provided you with valuable takeaways from this post. Please follow or subscribe to continue receiving more Klugo Briefing Posts in future.


About Klugo

NetSuite + NextService

Klugo’s vision is to unlock the full operating potential of our customers to maximise the value of their business. We do this by helping our customers achieve operating excellence using NetSuite + NextService, the world-leading cloud ERP and FSM business platform for small-to-medium-sized businesses.

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