Why Being Intentional Matters

Aug 03, 2022

This is the second installment of our four-week series on the 4 Elements to Successful Leadership. As I stated last week, these 4 elements, when I learned them, served me very well along my leadership journey. This week, I want to focus on the importance of being intentional. In this week’s Monday Motivation, I touched briefly on my belief that everyone of us can be intentional in what we do. Being intentional means acting with purposefulness and focus. It means doing what you put your mind to do. To me, the modern workplace demands this of all leaders and is why Intentional Leadership: Leading With A Purpose was our first and remains our signature leadership development class.

When one commits to acting with intention in their leadership, they commit to what I believe are 3 key things that I will cover in this blog: 1) Knowing your why of leadership and be able to articulate your why to your people as it affects them; 2) Understanding where you are in your leadership growth process – Your GPS Moment; and 3) Committing to your own personal growth and the growth of others. While these are by no means the only aspects of our intentional leadership class, they are three key ingredients to being more intentional.

Knowing Your “Why” of Leadership and being able to explain it is the second key ingredient to becoming more intentional. In many ways, knowing your why is THE most important because it affords you the internal motivation to evaluate and accomplish the others. To find your why requires more reflection time and your journal. Take all the time you need to write down what you really value personally and professionally. To help with this, consider what you value in others you admire and, conversely, what you don’t like. Write them down and see what starts to come to the surface. Write your goals as a leader for yourself personally as well as the people who work for you and the organization overall. Then start writing down one sentence that encompasses what your “why” is – what you’re all about as a leader. You may find it’s easier to start this in another role of your life such as a parent or family member.  Some examples are below:

“To provide the information, inspiration, and infrastructure so as to help others become the best possible version of themselves.”

“To share the power of therapeutic humor with others.”

“To push myself to be the best version of myself to be so that I know my mom is smiling down on me.”

The goal is to encapsulate in a simple and easily understandable sentence. This makes it easier to explain to others especially when tying it to why you are their leader and the overall organizational purpose.

Finding Your GPS Moment: Your first step in becoming more intentional as a leader is to fully and honestly assess where you are as a leader and where you’d like to be. I call this your GPS Moment of leadership. Just as the GPS unit in your car works, you must know two key pieces of information – where you are and where you want to go. This is really the first step to becoming intentional as a person, a parent, and a leader. It helps you understand what your strengths and weaknesses are; what your talents and potential pitfalls are. When you can honestly admit what these are, you take the first real step to being intentional. Trust me, your people will know if you are honestly assessing your skills, abilities, and talents and, in the long run, the only person who is harmed by not being honest with yourself is YOU! A couple of tips that help me include periodically performing a personal SWOT. Take your leadership journal and literally make four columns on a page and at the top write Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats. I don’t really like the word “Threats” because it has a negative implication, however it is those challenges that you may not be able to address. Once you have identified these in each category, reflect on what strengths and opportunities you can use to your advantage as a leader and how to minimize the weaknesses and threats that you have identified. By taking periodic review of these and adjusting accordingly, you will find that you start to be more intentional in where you place your energy for maximum effectiveness.

Making a commitment to your own personal growth and that of others is the final key ingredient I want to touch on this week. When you make a commitment to grow yourself, you make a commitment to be more intentional and can’t help but grow others. In my own personal leadership journey, I remember that when I finally decided that my why was to grow future leaders, I recommitted to developing the skills, knowledge, and abilities to be able to do this effectively. I would not have been able to grow personally or to effectively grow future leaders if I didn’t have that “aha” moment regarding my why. Once I knew that, it was easier to determine where I was and where I was going (GPS Moment). It was easier to develop a plan for myself and by virtue of learning new things through reading and studying, I wanted to share it with others which in turn helped both me and them! And, best of all, you become much more intentional on what and when you focus.

I hope these three simple, but key ingredients help you develop a plan for personal and professional growth that works best for you. I do know that these really helped me and have helped many of my students learn some ways to be more intentional in all that you do. When you know your why, you have a lot more options and clarity as to what is important and what you need to do. You become more intentional.


Note: Next week’s blog in this series is on Building Teams. Share this with others and encourage them to join our email list so they don’t miss a post! Learn more about being intentional and the other topics in this series by reading my book Essential Leadership Lessons From The Thin Blue Line available on your favorite bookseller platform.

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