Opportunities to develop leadership skills are everywhere in community engagement. Student leaders are challenged to clearly express their ideas and goals, to recruit others to share their vision, to try and fail and try again, and to resolve conflict and build trust. They also have to manage time and resources, set measures of accountability for themselves and others, and establish open roads for communication.

The Leadership Challenge®

The Lafayette Leadership Education program looks to the Leadership Challenge® model to guide students on their journey to become more effective leaders. The model underscores the idea that leadership is a relationship and focuses on the human elements of becoming a leader in its Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®:


Goal setting is critical to identifying and managing priorities. SMART goals allow students to structure and track goals in manageable parts. SMART goals are:
  • Specific:            What exactly do I want to achieve?
  • Measurable:    Where, how, when, with whom? How will things have changed when I’ve achieved the goal? 
  • Attainable:       Do I have the time and other resources to achieve this goal? 
  • Relevant:          What are the reasons to achieve this goal?
  • Time-Bound:   When do I want to have achieved this goal by?

SMART goals should be positively focused on something that is to be achieved – not something that is to be avoided.

With minor revision, SMART goals can be applied to organizational growth as well:
  • Vision:          What is the desired future of our organization?
  • Mission:       What do we do? For whom? How?
  • Objectives:  What specific result(s) are we trying to achieve?
  • Outcomes:   What measurable products will tell us the objective has been met?
  • Actions:        What do we do after we meet our objective? By what time?


Creating SMART Goals

Goal #1:    Personal leadership development goal

Goal #2:    Goal for the development of the organization


SMART Example:
  • Specific:            I want to hold one education event
  • Measurable:    45% of my organization’s volunteers will attend 
  • Attainable:      I will dedicate 2 hours per week to marketing my event
  • Relevant:         Volunteers will develop an understanding of the community
  • Time-Bound:   I will hold the event before spring break