The choices you make define what kind of leader you are and define your ability to create substantial change over time. Leaders who lead with intention are more focused and productive. That is, if their intentions are synced with behaviors that are proof of their intent.
For example: You receive an email from a colleague about a big change or promotion in their life. Your intention is to send a heartfelt congratulatory reply. Instead, it takes you three days to respond. The impact of your 3-day-old thoughtful reply does not land as it was intended. Your behavior speaks volumes over your intent.
“We tend to judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior.” This quote, by Stephen M.R. Covey, goes one step further when leading with intent — Are you sure your behavior is reinforcing what you intend?
3 Tips on How You Can Lead More Intentionally
Start Your Day by Your Own Rules: Power up your day with an intentional routine that works for you – one that sets you on a course for slaying dragons vs. submissively following the whim of whatever hits your inbox. Focus your energy on actions that will feed and motivate you to stick to your plan and the relevant work required for any given day. Consider what is likely to distract you, robbing you of your time and energy. The minute you let technology distract you, you are in response vs. proactive mode. Technology and others are now directing your interest and action instead of you. I hear a lot lately about the power of technology and the influences being built into apps to tell our brain we need it (more of it). Flashing notifications, pinging when a text or email arrives, number of likes, thumbs up … If you don’t think it is so, check out this story from 60 Minutes, Brain Hack.
Begin With the End in Mind: I’m suggesting you stay focused throughout the day by considering the intent behind that 6 a.m. meeting, the difficult conversation, lunch with a prospective client, negotiations with your boss, a networking event, etc. Define your intent early and align your behaviors to help facilitate the results you expect. For example: If your intention is to inspire innovation, what will it take to “prove” to your team how important innovation is to the future of your company? What will people be doing differently in an environment focused on innovation? How will you know you have effectively communicated and reinforced that intent? With the end goal in mind, your deliberate choices will drive your behavior and ultimately the influence you can have on situations and others as a leader.
Be Present and Aware of Your Impact: Leading with intention not only requires clarity of purpose, but also a clear understanding of the impact your behavior is having on others. In times of uncertainty and change, it is easy to go into autopilot and revert to behavior that is most comfortable but may not be in alignment with your intentions. Watch for reactions that are unexpected and gather feedback or insight into what is causing the disconnect.