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Enough with the big, hairy goals

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There’s no denying that “big, hairy goals” are essential. But Bob Sutton, author of Good Boss, Bad Boss, believes the best bosses don’t spend much time thinking or talking about them. Here’s why:

They are obvious. Can you guess at the stretch goals of the sailors on “Deadliest Catch” or of a giant retailer like Target? Probably to catch X tons of crab or gain Z percent of market share.

They are too blunt to provide daily guidance. Telling a division to double its revenue doesn’t help employees see how to do it.

They are too daunting. Lay out a path by helping your people see what they can accomplish right now.

Rather than evoking the big goal again and again, Sutton says, a good boss lets his team “proceed calmly, with confidence, and with the motivation that comes from taking clear little steps—and they may just accomplish those big, hairy goals.”

— Adapted from “Hey Boss—Enough with the Big, Hairy Goals,” Robert I. Sutton, Harvard Business Review blog, “The Conversation.”

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