How leaders develop new capabilities when they set stretch objectives

I just made a comeback to cycling. I retired a decade ago after a 200km ride wreaked havoc with my shoulders. This time the smart move was to join a great team of supportive riders. They do not mind me being (much) older and slower than them. They wait for me to catch up when I fall behind on the hills and encourage me to keep going. I am enjoying the team spirit. But we upped the ante by signing up for the 100km leg of Melbourne’s Around the Bay event in October. That was a good idea, but after I struggled through a couple of 60km training rides, I realised I need to build my capability. How will I add another 40kms, particularly without stopping for coffee along the way?

Now 100km may be a training ride for you, but for me it is a stretch. I need help to achieve it! My physio has given me a program to increase my flexibility and endurance.

My point is setting a stretch goal showed up the gaps I face. I was aware of my lack of fitness, but I comforted myself with the thought that I would improve bit by bit. Now with an October deadline I will need to increase my training. Declaring the aim with the team also makes it more real. They won’t mind if I am not at their standard. But as the weakest link in the chain, pardon the bike pun, I would not want to hold them back.

The same principles apply when we set stretch business goals. The direction you are headed right now could be fine, but declaring a stretch objective sets you in motion to address the gaps you face. It will also highlight that you need help. It is a smart move to surround yourself with a supportive team who shares your goal. You need to build your influence muscle to bring others along with you since leadership is a team sport. Of course, it would be wise to get an executive coach, just saying! Someone who can push you further than you would push yourself. Making your aim public also makes it harder to wriggle out of it later.

🙋‍♀️ Have you set stretch objectives and built new capabilities for yourself? 🙋‍♂️

Best regards, Brian