Many of you are familiar with our Thoughtful Leadership philosophy – being present, being intentional, and being authentic will lead to the results that you want. Recently I have had several coaching conversations about what it means to be intentional. For example, when people share their career journey, there are times when there is not a lot of intentionality involved. I will hear how one role led to another because “that’s just the path that is in place” or someone will talk about being “tapped on the shoulder” to take a new role even though it was not the job they really wanted. There are even those whose career choices were based on what other people wanted for them or saw for them, not what they wanted for themselves.

Being intentional is about considering what you want for yourself, for your team, and for others. It is a necessary leadership behavior because it helps you to determine what is important and then stay focused on that goal or result. Being intentional requires action and reflection and here are ways to do it:

  • Be willing to say yes and to say no – We can’t do everything. We don’t have the time, the resources, or the energy. Being intentional helps you to decide what you want to say yes to and then figure out what you will have to say no to in order to make space and time for the things you want to do.
  • Create space for self-reflection – It’s hard to be intentional when you’re running from meeting to meeting, putting out fires, addressing other people’s crises, and feeling overwhelmed. Giving yourself the gift of thinking time, time to reflect and consider, allows you to move forward with clarity and determination.
  • Ask questions – Intent requires discernment and understanding. Asking questions of yourself and of others gives you the information and answers you need to move forward with intention. Questions help you to explore, learn, and inform the steps you may need to take.

Being intentional impacts others because your behavior and changes in your behavior affect those around you. So, as you are practicing being more intentional, remember that intent and impact can be two different things. I learned that lesson the hard way when I received 360 feedback for the first time many years ago. One criticism was that I did not acknowledge people’s efforts. As I sat with that feedback, I realized that it was a case of intent not matching impact. My intent was to give my team autonomy and have them know that I trust their decisions and their ability to lead – and giving them the space to do that. The impact was a void that some saw as a lack of acknowledgment and recognition of their efforts. To avoid misunderstanding, be sure to share how you are being more intentional and what goals and behavior changes you are focusing on. Communicating your intentions helps everyone understand why your behavior may be changing. That would have helped in my situation.

Being intentional is a part of Thoughtful Leadership because it is a key element of focusing on your development and growth as a leader. It allows you to see yourself and your future in a new light. It puts you in control of your leadership and your life. It makes things clearer and more focused.

Where can you be more intentional?
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