A Model for Effective SMART Goal Setting for Team Leaders: The C3 Principle


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By: Corry Robertson, PCC

SMART goal setting

A Model for Effective SMART Goal Setting for Team Leaders: The C3 Principle

Goal setting is at the core of leading a team, and it’s often the way leaders provide challenges, focus and motivation to their team. But goal-setting needs a structure to make it effective and results-driven.

Effective goal setting involves backing up from the every day and getting clear on what you want, what you don’t want, and how you have to evolve to achieve your goals.

At the Coaching Academy for Leaders, we use the C3 Principle to help leaders understand their workplace culture and set goals that drive results.

The C3 Principle

The C3 Principle is a powerful tool for exploring the foundation of your workplace culture and getting clear on what you want and what you don’t want.

Looking at your goals through the lens of clarity, choice, and commitment (C3) helps you create realistic goals that are not only achievable and results-driven, but rooted in your workplace culture and aligned with your team’s personal and organizational growth.

Exploring Clarity

Clarity begins with looking within.

Self-knowledge is the core quality of a true leader so this is where clarity really starts.  Achieving clarity around what drives you and where your attitudes and beliefs come from means you can create goals that work. 

What pushes your buttons and why? The discovery process is not always easy, but always worth it.  A personality assessment like the gold-standard Lumina Spark is a great place to start, and you can read more about psychometric assessments here.

When you know and understand what makes you tick, you can then apply the same mindful curiosity towards your workplace culture.

Using Clarity for Goal Setting Within Your Culture

There is a saying that culture eats strategy for breakfast. A workplace culture is characterized by the commonly held beliefs, values and attitudes among the workers and these dictate choices, behaviours, the way we communicate and how work gets done.

Basically, this is the life force energy of the workforce…the collective will and power that gets things done. Because of this, leaders must have clarity around what kind of culture they need to support the business strategy that they want to execute.  Once clarity is achieved the culture must be brought to life.

When you understand your current culture you can prepare for the future.

Exploring Choices

Good choices are made based on your clarity of values and principals, as well as your knowledge of your business strategy and organizational culture. Your clarity around your goals and culture is where all decisions and choices come from. 

To place that in the context of your workplace culture, the strength and stability of your foundation (your self-knowledge) can go a long way in determining the ability of your workforce to thrive.  

It’s important to consider this because we all have so many daily choices that place demands on our time, attention and resources. Without a clear understanding of the foundation then we have no compass to guide us in the decision making process. 

What is this foundation built on? 

Values and principals. Values are the moral principles, beliefs or accepted standards of a person or social group. These make up standard rules of personal conduct.

Exploring Commitment

Stephen Covey said “Don’t prioritize what’s on your schedule, schedule your priorities” 

Making choices and committing to them is difficult because it means that you are going to have to do two tough things:

#1 – You are going to have to learn to say no. Making a choice means saying yes to one thing and no to everything that contradicts it. This is hard to do because not everyone is going to be happy about your commitment.

#2 – You are going to have to stick to it. Believe me, those unhappy people are going to give you grief and you are going to have to hold your ground. This is where it becomes difficult. 

How are you going to live with yourself as you remain true to your commitment? You fall back on your clear business and culture strategy that is based on values and principals. This is your compass, your true north. 

“A trusted and respected leader demonstrates CLARITY in their goals, CHOICES based on their organizational principles and values, and COMMITMENT to making these a reality”

man and woman creating business plan


SMART Goals 

Once you have selected your most important priorities using the C3 principle, it’s time to break them down even further into what is known as SMART goals. This is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-framed. 

A SMART goal is a goal that is:


A Specific goal is precise and detailed. For example, a good specific goal would be “I want to grow my company by attracting 10 new clients a month for the next 6 months”. Simply stating “I want to have more clients” is not specific enough at this point. 


Your goal must be measurable. In the example above, you stated exactly how many clients you want to attract. This will enable you to revisit your goals and revise or tweak them if needed.


A good measure of determining whether your goal is achievable is to write out the steps required to reach them. Here is a framework to determine if a goal is achievable – think about these points:

  • How much time will you need to work on your goal each day?
  • How many days of work will it require?
  • Do you have the skills, training and knowledge required?
  • Do you have the funds required to invest in your project?
  • Do you have the support required?
  • Do you have the resources required?
  • Do you have the motivation, inspiration and interest?
  • Do you have the health and/or physical stamina required?
  • Do you have the physical tools and location required?

Ask yourself honest questions about the achievability of your goal. If you realize that you answered ‘no’ to any of them, then you should be happy because you have identified a micro-goal. 

Micro Goals Drive Results

A micro-goal could also be described as a tiny step or action that you must take before you can start working on your larger goal. For example, if your larger goal is to make 10 calls to new clients, a micro-goal might be the creation of a database to track your progress, which you should undertake before you even begin making calls. 

A micro-goal is an item that you must achieve to establish winning conditions and move another step closer to success. Break down each micro-goal until you have identified a SMART goal and build your foundation by achieving them one by one.


Once you have decided your goal is achievable, you must evaluate whether it is realistic, or even realistically high. Goals that are set too low are easily attained and fail to provide any sense of satisfaction or challenge. Conversely, goals that are set too high are demoralizing because there is a high risk of failure, and it is difficult to remain motivated. 


You must have a deadline for the achievement of your goal. No deadline means that you have no way of prioritizing the tasks required to achieve your goal and no way of measuring or marking progress.

The method for success

Now that you have written your detailed SMART goals, it’s time to get to work. Here is the proven method for success:

1. Establish your focus. This means being clear about where you are going to begin.

2. Explore the possibilities. What are you going to do in order to achieve your goals?

3. Plan the action. What step-by-step process will you follow?

4. Explore the barriers. Think about your potential obstacles. If you anticipate obstacles and barriers to progress, you can prepare yourself and remove them in advance.

5. Review and next steps. Can you delegate any of the tasks to someone else? If so, make note of this.

6. Reasons why. Make a list of all the reasons you are doing this. When you succeed, how will you reward yourself? Describe how you and your team will succeed. Positive statements like these will pull you towards your goals and motivate you along the way.

7. Status quo statement. Describe the status quo at your organization. This statement will remind you that without action, your life will remain the same, or may get worse. This statement will serve to push you towards your goals.


Setting goals for yourself, your team, and your organization is an important part of a leader’s role.  When you set SMART goals through the lens of clarity, choice and commitment, you increase the probability of success.  

SMART goals can be achieved using micro-goals, and clear steps to break down the work into bite-sized actions.

Goal setting for a tech team is an essential part of creating an organizational culture that is aligned with your values and one that drives performance and success.  Using a clear structure keeps you focused and goal-driven.  Here’s to your success!

What kind of goal setting tools do you use in your organization?  Let me know in the comments!

1 Comment

  1. Anna Wells Tavoa

    i am interested to know if you have any papers on student goal setting or family goal setting or marriage goal setting papers available to read…
    thanks. you are amazing woman


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