Leadership Development

Examples of leadership goals that energize high-potential employees

Leverage these examples of leadership goals to inspire and engage your high-potential employees as they transition into leadership roles.

Matthew Emmons

Published on 

April 17, 2023

Updated on 

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Have you ever noticed that some companies seem to attract and retain top talent effortlessly?

While some of it might be due to the company's reputation, culture, or compensation packages, there's often something deeper at play: effective leadership goals. 


The best companies have managers who set clear goals with their high-potential employees and mentor them to help them achieve those goals. 

In doing so, they create a culture of growth that’s energizing for top talent. 

In this article, we'll provide you with a list of examples of leadership goals that can help you develop your high-potential employees and keep them engaged and motivated.

By the end, you will have a better idea of what leadership goals are, why they are so important, and what kinds of questions you should be asking your top talent.

Let’s get started.

What are leadership goals?

The simple truth is that leaders are not born, they are made. Every good leader needs time to learn crucial lessons and understand the value of their unique approaches. They need to develop their leadership style and determine how different approaches work with different personalities.

As a leader trying to develop the next generation of leaders at your organization, setting leadership goals with high-potential employees helps prepares them for future managerial roles.  breaks down this process into a structured approach that’s less overwhelming.

By helping your high-potential employees set leadership goals, you’re helping them align their desires for their careers with the company’s objectives. It becomes a north star for their career path. This may include learning new skills and pursuing mentorship opportunities. Consequently, when their north star involves growing within your organization, that’s a recipe for incredible retention rates.

Why your high-potential talent needs to have leadership goals

Having clear leadership goals is crucial for employee retention. Without them, top talent will feel stifled and fail to see their future with your company. They’ll begin to look for more forward-thinking opportunities where they can envision the life and career journey they want to pursue.

This is the consequence of not helping your best and brightest set leadership goals. If leadership goals are not clear or, worse, non-existent, then employees will leave for better opportunities. In short, remember that having an open dialogue with your high-potential employees about their professional aspirations will bolster retention efforts and support the next generation of leaders.

In setting leadership goals, your employees will feel more motivated, accompanied by increased engagement. Developing the new leaders “in-house” is key to the long-term success of your organization as you can spend more time investing in strong employees who are already familiar with your work ecosystem and less time replacing them.

Questions to ask your top talent to identify their leadership goals

By now, you understand the importance of setting leadership goals with your top talent. Now it’s time to develop questions that are direct enough to get your employees thinking about their future at your organization, but flexible to consider their personal goals as well. 

Here are ten examples of questions to ask your top talent about their leadership goals:

  • What qualities do you feel you possess that make you a good leader?
  • How are you continuing to hone those talents?
  • Do you know what your leadership style is?
  • What is it about your current position that you enjoy most, and where is an area where you might want to grow in the future?
  • What are your long-term professional aspirations? Are you interested in pursuing a leadership role?
  • What smaller steps are you currently taking to reach your career aspirations?
  • What type of leadership roles interest you the most, and why?
  • What skills or abilities do you want to develop in order to become a better leader?
  • What skills do you feel your need to develop further to become a great leader?
  • How could our team’s leadership better support your professional aspirations and personal growth?

This last question is particularly important. A leader is only as good as their character. You want to demonstrate to your employees that you care about them on a personal level as much if not more, than you do on a professional one. By supporting their personal growth and their professional aspirations at the same time, you ensure a holistic mentorship process which will ensure they do not burn out in either area.

Examples of leadership goals that will energize your future leaders

As a recap, the goals you create should be SMART (meaning Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound).

When creating a specific goal with your high-talent individual, consider who the goal involves. Who is actively working to change? Who is the audience? Shareholders? Senior leaders? 

You should also know what you want to change and, simultaneously, what you want to stay the same. Do you want to improve the understanding of your latest product while ensuring that your brand identity remains the same? To improve communication between senior leadership and employees at quarterly meetings?

Additionally, ensure that your goal is measurable. Measurements can come in the form of surveys, reports, verbal feedback, direct engagement (conversational metrics), etc.

With that in mind, here are a few sample leadership goals for your top talent:

Goal Explanation
Lead a cross-functional team Leading a cross-functional team can help high-potential employees develop their collaboration, communication, and project management skills, as well as gain exposure to different parts of the organization.
Develop and implement a diversity and inclusion initiative Creating and implementing a diversity and inclusion initiative can help high-potential employees develop their leadership and problem-solving skills, as well as demonstrate their commitment to fostering an inclusive workplace culture.
Deliver a presentation to senior leadership Presenting to senior leaders can help high-potential employees develop their communication and presentation skills, as well as gain visibility and recognition within the organization.
Attend an industry conference or networking event Attending industry conferences or networking events can help high-potential employees expand their professional network, learn about new trends and best practices in their field, and gain exposure to new ideas and perspectives.
Develop a mentorship relationship with a senior leader Developing a mentorship relationship with a senior leader can help high-potential employees gain valuable guidance, feedback, and insights, as well as build relationships and visibility within the organization.
Take on a special project outside of their comfort zone Taking on a special project outside of their comfort zone can help high-potential employees develop new skills, expand their knowledge and expertise, and demonstrate their ability to adapt and learn quickly.
Lead a change management initiative Leading a change management initiative can help high-potential employees develop their strategic thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills, as well as demonstrate their ability to drive change and achieve results.
Build and manage a team Building and managing a team can help high-potential employees develop their leadership and people management skills, as well as gain experience in hiring, training, and performance management.
Develop and implement a process improvement initiative Developing and implementing a process improvement initiative can help high-potential employees develop their analytical, problem-solving, and project management skills, as well as demonstrate their ability to drive continuous improvement and operational excellence.
Complete a leadership development program or course Completing a leadership development program or course can help high-potential employees develop their leadership skills and knowledge, as well as gain exposure to new ideas and best practices in leadership.

How to co-create an action plan with your top talent to achieve their goals

This entire process must begin with a conversation. Your high-potential employees need to feel heard and also be comfortable enough with leaders to be vulnerable. Establishing an easy and regular means of communication is key.

After asking questions like those listed above, you can begin to determine what their personal and professional goals are. From there, you can brainstorm a way to translate them to the SMART model by making them more specific, determining how they will be measured, whether or not they are achievable in their current state, how they are relevant to the company and individual, and what the timeline looks like for completion. 

With this in mind, both you and your top talent will emerge from the meeting(s) with a clear understanding of what their goals are, how they are to be supported as they complete tasks in pursuit of their goals, and what measurable steps they will take to achieve them. It may be useful to create a comprehensive plan outlining this information to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Bottom line

In an age where leadership coaching is ever-evolving, and high-potential talent is as invaluable as ever, ensure that your top talent can visualize a future at your company. 

The companies that retain their star employees have encouraged them to come up with leadership goals. This, in turn, creates more motivation and engagement from employees. The conversations surrounding these goals should also eventually evolve into a leadership mentor program which can continue to form a welcoming and growth-centric workplace.

Employee mentorship is important to fostering a healthy company culture and retaining strong talent for growth. By developing employees, you invest in the future of your company and industry, all the while creating meaningful personal connections that also provide opportunities to learn about younger generations of talent.

If you do not have one already, there is never a better time to start a mentorship program. However, we know this can be a daunting task which is why Together developed a mentorship platform that enables companies to drive employee growth through relationships. Our platform makes it easy to match and manage hundreds of mentoring relationships at a glance.

Learn more by scheduling a demo with our team to find out how you can launch an impact leadership mentoring program.

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