Goals gone wild: Avoid dangers of leadership goal-setting

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January brings with it new year's resolutions, but Kent Bottles, senior fellow at the Thomas Jefferson University School of Population Health in Philadelphia, cautions that setting goals can backfire. Citing a previous Academy of Management Perspectives article, Bottles looked at "goals gone wild," in which subjects given a specific goal and/or a financial incentive were more likely to cheat than those who were instructed to do their best. However, others dispute the findings, saying that setting goals can help achieve financial success.

In a Hospital Impact blog post this week, Bottles cautions against fixating on a particular numeric goal that undermines intrinsic motivation and learning. People may become so fixated on the endpoint rather than the process of achieving those goals. "My advice for 2013 is not to abandon goal-setting entirely. My advice is to choose goals wisely and continue to monitor them in light of changing conditions," Bottles said. Blog post