To have leaders who act with intention is essential for a healthy organization, whether that business is made up of one or thousands of people. How can you possibly serve the needs of your employees or customers if you don’t do it with purpose and with an understanding of what’s truly important? You can’t if you don’t have the right mindset.
To be prepared, there are ingredients we all need to add to our daily routines.
I was honoured to speak at Mike Vardy‘s The BIG Ready event in Vancouver, where a series of amazing speakers presented on everything from the importance of truth to asking the right questions to making time for balance. It was a great day filled by a curious and thoughtful community. Who doesn’t love those?
Mike asked me to speak on those very important leadership focus of intention but it was through looking at my own processes, that I realized that it’s hard to do when we get in our own way. Our mindset needs to be in the right place. So at the event I shared a few things we should consider in our actions and attitudes that can help us better be ready to lead with intent. I thought I’d share with you too.
1. Commit to Choice
When you are approached with a problem, a decision, a course of action, etc., you generally will spend far more time TRYING to make a decision than you need. What if you pick the wrong one? What if you’re not ready for the choice you do make? Choose. Take action, then you can always course correct afterwards. The important thing is you’re in motion. Things are moving forward. All that delaying shows your team that you can’t be decisive and would prefer to stall. Your clients are wishing you’d just make a decision. If you are in deep analysis paralysis, then nothing happens. You waste time. And you’ll never know the outcome of the choice you didn’t pick, anyway. Commit to making a choice. Once you do, you always feel a sense of relief because it’s done and you can move on to the next thing.
2. Demonstrate Consistency and Endurance
You don’t need to be the best. You just need to be the one that’s reliable. That shows up, and keeps showing up. The world is littered with action plans that were never followed up on, podcasts that died after eight episodes, and promises never delivered. Though it’s often said that “consistency is key”, it’s also about taking that consistency and powering through the moments when you’re down, not as productive or feeling uninspired. Even if you aren’t delivering your best, showing up will earn you leadership points. To work with intention, make sure you treat your leadership like a marathon that never ends, rather than a sprint to the end of the meeting, the day, the week, the month.
3. Be Accountable to Yourself
If you made plans with a friend of yours, and cancelled on them every single day, what kind of relationship would you have with them? What kind of trust would you be building? Well, think about how often you cancel on yourself. You set a to do list you don’t attempt or a “I’ll start this in 30 minutes, tomorrow, next week” commitment that doesn’t happen. To have the right mindset, it’s important you are accountable for what you do and for what you want to do. The most important relationship is with yourself, and being able to trust yourself is a big part of that.
4. Have Empathy for Yourself.
First, what story are you telling others, about yourself? When you share a story, give advice or provide a lesson learned to an employee, note how you represent yourself in the story. See if you minimize yourself and your impact, using words like “just” right before you talk about something you did or being self-deprecating about your leadership. There’s no problem with highlighting the great work of others, but always make sure you’re not diminishing yourself and your role in that narrative. What the other person is hearing is you are “lesser than…”, not only in the story but in how you think of yourself. That’s not the impression you ever want to give.
Second, what story are you telling yourself, about yourself? It happens in the smallest of moments. “Idiot!” “Stupid!” “Well, that was dumb.” We drop these little phrases under our breath (or not so under our breath) in times where we are disappointed by our actions or reactions to events. Why throw that negativity back at yourself? Sure it’s small and in the moment but it’s also death by a 1,000 paper cuts. Erosion happens over long periods of time, by little droplets of water. You are eroding the great person and leader you’re choosing to be. Because you certainly can’t have empathy for others, one of the basic qualities of leadership, if you can’t have it for yourself.
5. Be the Person that Does the Things
What is your identity? Ever gone to an event, a conference, a motivational talk, a meeting… and left inspired to take on the world? Only to return to your status quo a few days later not having done any of the things you had set out to do to improve your development, help others or strengthen your relationships. Because you’re not the person that does those things. If you were, you’d have DONE those things. Jim Fortin, an expert on personal transformation, and recommends you ask yourself the question, “What would be the identity of someone who already has what I want?” And then look for someone who already has what you want. The blueprint for the leader you want to be and the mindset you want to have is already available, you just have to find it.
To work with intent, you need to be the person that works with intent. That comes from a willful and intentional mindset. And that starts with trying.