Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah : Lesson #7

Leaders set before their people clear goals.

“Then I said to them, “You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.” (2:17) Once Nehemiah completed his physical tour of the burned city walls of Jerusalem, he fully understood the weight and gravity of the situation. He also clearly knew what had to be done. When his God-given burden to rebuild met his passion God’s city, the conditions were right for him to reveal a clear, concise, and purposeful goal. He said, “let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.” He did not say “let’s fix a gate and we’ll look at the rest later.” Instead, he set before the people a clear goal: rebuild. The people now knew what was expected of them. The would be able to measure progress and success. They would be able to see the end in sight. This goal also had a clear purpose, “that we may no longer be a reproach.” This ensured “buy-in” on the part of the people.

Leaders understand the importance of goal-setting. In the same way that Nehemiah placed a clear goal before his people, leaders today should always keep a goal before his/her people. These goals should be clear, not ambiguous. They should be simple, not complicated. They should be attainable, not far-fetched. Goals, where thoughtfully placed before an organization can motivate, improve productivity, and increase loyalty and commitment. The opposite is also true. If there is no organizational goal-setting, the people are left to themselves to figure out the markers for vision, success, and growth.

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