Intentional Leadership – what is it, and why is it important?

When I look back over 2018, I feel pretty proud. I achieved a lot – in my business, in my relationships, and in myself. It’s incredibly important to celebrate that, whether or not it was exactly what I had in mind. Us perfectionists tend not to do this very well, so it is a great thing to practise!

It is equally important to take a look at what didn’t work and what we could do even better. How many of us can look back on last year and honestly say we achieved all we set out to do? My guess is that for many of you – like me – there were some goals you achieved, some you didn’t, some took longer than you’d have liked, or you got part way there rather than all the way.

I started the year with great intentions, well thought out goals and clear plans. And yet I didn’t get the results that I intended – it was not what I had planned, not what I had meant to happen, and definitely not what I wanted. Seeing the number of times that I – and I assert, most of you – have experienced this got me thinking. What is the thing that’s missing? Where do these unintended results and consequences come from? Why is it that great plans, great goals and great intentions don’t always create the results we want? How can we eliminate the unintended, accidental outcomes, to consistently achieve the results we are going after?

Clearly there will be some occasions where the reasons are genuinely out of our control, but as Stephen Covey put it so beautifully, “If you think the problem is out there, that very thought is the problem”.

This brought me back to the fundamental concept of intention – being intentional. When we look at the definition of intentional: done on purpose, deliberate – how often do we approach intention as a one-time, or at best irregular action? We set the intention, but rapidly go back to our goals and the detail of the “what”; it’s familiar, it feels more manageable, more tangible. It’s usually a comfortable place to be – just get on with the doing, and hope it will all work out.

My hypothesis is that a key thing that is missing is being intentional about everything, consistently. Which for many of us, especially in positions of responsibility, often equates to being intentional about our leadership.

– Intentional about our presence – looking at how we show up and our impact everywhere;

– Intentional about our focus and our energy – recognising that time is our most valuable resource, and looking at how we spend all of it;

– Intentional about our relationships– which we nourish and grow, how we build trust, who we are inside those; and

– Intentional about our communication– being clear, direct and consistent, speaking in line with our intention and our action.

Core to this is also taking responsibility – believing it is possible to influence and change not just our actions and behaviours, but the results that follow and the impact we have.

This year, as I work towards my goals, I’m going to explore these themes in more depth. I’ll be sharing what I learn as I practice these ideas myself, and work on them with my clients. So, that’s the overall intention set! Now to go and practise being intentional everywhere…

Intentional Leadership – Leadership on purpose, to get the results we intend

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