Leading for Excellence — Intentional Leadership In The Spotlight
Being an intentional leader and consistently deliberate in my approaches have become key to the few critical bedrock principles of effective leadership through more than a decade of pursuing my passion for leadership. Leading for excellence means nothing less than embracing intentional leadership as your own priesthood.
You can’t expect people to see you as a leader just because you have a fancy title on your business card.
You have to be intentional in developing the trust and respect of those who work with you. You have to take deliberate actions for others to follow your vision and direction.
Sure, you can influence others from any position at any time.
The question is whether you will be intentional about increasing your influence to become a better leader. You don’t arrive at a leadership position and then learn how to lead. You learn how to lead so you earn the right to be in a leadership position.
Intentional leaders take deliberate and purposeful actions to develop the trust and respect of their employees.
Having a strategy, and a plan, is being intentional. To be intentional you have to be deliberate in your steps, planning them carefully in order to accomplish an anticipated outcome. When leading others, having intentional leadership means that you calculate your moves and you move with purpose. Every move that you make, and each conversation that you have should be powered with purpose.
Let me know: Are you committed enough to become an intentional leader and inspire your team?
Intentional leadership is critical when navigating your organization through tumultuous times of fear, uncertainty, change and instability. As a leader, now is your time to stand tall. Use these intentional leadership tips to bring strength, stability and empathy to your team during a hard time.
Rule #1 : Ask, Listen & Learn
Good leaders show interest in their team members’ ventures. This not only brings you insight into a person’s talents, motivations, and a project’s progress but it also creates trust. And with trust comes respect, which is a huge motivator and productiveness booster.
Sometimes we just need to talk less and learn to listen more and listen better.
One way leaders can be more deliberate in this way is by leading through questions more often and learning how to ask better questions. If you’re the kind of manager who tells your team what to do from the position that you know everything that’s necessary and you know the right way to do it, you’ve created a ‘knowing and telling’ culture. Intentional leaders ask great questions, actively and emphatically listen, delay giving advice and ‘the answer,’ and seek to learn and not to merely teach.
To be an intentional leader, you must have a laser focus on others.
Great leaders understand that the purpose of leadership is centered on one thing: to add value to others. Every interaction you have with another human being is an opportunity to add value. Don’t minimize the importance of that opportunity. And to become a person who consistently brings something extra to others, you must learn to get over yourself. We all have our own agendas, but the great leaders see and act on behalf of others.
Sometimes it’s easier to close your office door and bury yourself in deadlines and commitments.
One of the hardest challenges is breaking away from being a one-person show and understanding the importance of building a stronger team. People need to know what they do makes a difference, and it’s up to leadership to focus on encouraging workers to continue to grow in their skills. You don’t pull a flower up by its roots to help it grow; growth happens when the person in charge purposefully nurtures and develops an environment of encouragement.
Employees need constructive criticism in order to grow both personally and professionally.
Intentional leaders recognize that feedback does not have to be limited to annual performance reviews and instead offer their employees constructive criticism on a regular basis. Leaders take advantage of every opportunity to give their employees feedback and believe that doing so will improve the strength of the team overall.
Rule #2 : Lead With Purpose
Talk about the vision and the values of your company every time you have the chance. Review your core values in staff meetings. Remind your team members why they want to work for you. Give employees a reason to come into the office — other than a paycheck.
You don’t need a crystal ball to foresee the future and lead intentionally.
The workforce doesn’t expect leadership to predict the future, but creating clarity about what success looks like provides employees with marked and measured goals. Even if a project changes direction, creating clarity along the way and adapting to the changing circumstances helps the team become more flexible to ultimately foster innovation.
During uncertain times, culture and values will be in the spotlight — employees are looking to you for honest answers and an active and empathetic response to their needs.
Because of the uncertainty following crisis, fostering authentic connections establishes trust. When you bring your authentic self into the environment, people trust you, and trust is at the heart of any successful relationship. Authenticity is crucial, so you need to continually ask yourself: How does each decision affect the core of who our company is and our company values?
As a leader, one of the most valuable things you bring to your team is vision.
Both vision of your team’s goals and how they fit within your organization’s goals, as well as vision of what is possible for each of your team members. When you focus on your leadership vision with intention, several great things start to happen. Your team gets clearer on what they’re supposed to do. This is so great because they’re not wasting time on “bring me a rock” exercises. And when the team can see the results of their hard work in practice, their morale, engagement, and discretionary effort go up, too.
Great leaders are transparent in their communication and share the big picture of WHY something is happening at every opportunity.
They recognize that explaining the WHY behind the organization’s purpose and behind organizational changes is a part of how we make employees feel safe. Save your team the stress and anxiety and share all of the information you can with them. Be as transparent as possible. The more they know, the safer they will feel and the more likely they will be able to handle any change proactively.
Rule #3 : Lead Yourself First
Taking time out to reflect and consider a difficult decision can be hard to do, especially when under stress or while we are busy. So it’s important to take some time out to reflect and work through all considerations in your mind before acting.
Decide who you are and what you stand for. When you’re gone, what do you want people to say about you?
Self-awareness isn’t limited to knowing yourself. The point of this journey of self-awareness is to understand where your efforts to improve are best directed. The ability to take on feedback — from staff, colleagues, and superiors — and crucially acting on it, is what differentiates great leaders from good ones.
Leadership starts with you. Before you can lead anyone else, you must first be able to lead yourself.
If you wouldn’t follow yourself, why should anyone else? You can demonstrate the power of self-leadership with a couple of drinking glasses. In the first example, you try to pour an empty glass into another empty glass. Too often, leaders try to serve others without filling their own cup. It simply doesn’t work. In the second example, you pour water into the first drinking glass. The water represents self-leadership through personal and professional growth. When you begin to grow yourself, you can then more effectively grow those around you.
Intentional leaders are aware of the impression that they give off and make a conscientious effort to set the best example for their employees at all times.
Some managers walk around the office with a sour look on their face, unaware that employees take this to mean something bad is happening with the company. Some employees may even interpret this as the manager shooting them a dirty look. Intentional leaders, however, are aware that their words and body language weigh heavy on their team, and therefore act and speak very deliberately to inspire and motivate everyone them.
Being aware of and intentional with your leadership style gives you an edge in developing as a leader.
Your team members will feed off of your emotions and outlook. If you’re constantly worried and talking about the bottom line, your team might panic about their job security. If you show confidence, your team will pick up on that. If you’re willing to take chances, they’ll feel more freedom to follow your lead. That’s when the real fun begins!
Rule #4 : Plant The Seed of Growth
Your ability to share your knowledge and skills with your team and peers reflects your ability to lead. Your team wishes to grow in their professional lives also and there is no better way to do this than to share your expertise with them. This not only improves their skills but also their confidence, productivity, and job satisfaction.
Good leaders know just because they can do all the work, doesn’t mean they should.
The journey to becoming a leader often involves being a powerful contributor to the team, but it’s time to leave that behind for others as you work your way through the ranks. You should be disproportionately focused on creating other leaders because that is how you amplify your impact in the organization. You have to look for the opportunities in which you can add value to a person’s life. Making them feel like their role in your life had a purpose, that you welcomed and valued.
Intentional leaders create deliberately developmental organizations — teams that value the development of people as much as their team’s mission to the point that they view both as one in the same.
And as your team’s skills and knowledge improve through your guidance as does your ability to free yourself up for more pressing matters and future opportunities. Admit you’re not the smartest person in the room and solicit colleagues by name to join the conversation. Including everyone in the conversation helps each employee feel seen and heard as valuable members of the team.
To grow into a strong leader yourself, you must intentionally place yourself in a growth environment.
Just like a plant can’t grow without the right soil, air, and a conducive climate, you will never grow into an influential leader planted in the wrong surroundings. Successful leaders surround themselves with others who make them think bigger, work harder, and provide encouragement and accountability.
The best leaders not only develop themselves, but also consistently help those around them grow.
As you’re helping your employees gain leadership skills, you’ll likely take on a mentor-mentee relationship with them. And this natural progression is a very beneficial tool to continue honing their leadership skills — so use it to the fullest. When you make your employees feel like an integral part of the company, they will naturally rise to the occasion and emerge as leaders.
Rule #5 : Own Your Mistakes
It’s easy to be a leader when everything goes great. The true mark of a leader is admitting failure. When you say, “I messed up” and figure out a way to fix it, you earn the respect of your peers and team members. People follow authentic leaders.
Just because you meant for something to happen, doesn’t mean it will always work the way you envisioned.
In this case, sometimes we fail to reach our goals or expectations. This is where true intentionality takes place. It’s easy to be determined when everything goes as planned, but the true test of great leaders is what they do when their plans fall short. Regardless of who dropped the ball on the project, take ownership of the failure, and implement a strategy that includes everyone’s specific duties. By admitting fault and coming up with solutions, your team will see you as a front-line leader who will go to war for them.
True intentional leaders do not shy away from accepting responsibility when something goes wrong.
Because intentional leaders think each decision over carefully, they will always be confident in the decision that was made, even if it doesn’t have the best results. These leaders are ready to admit their faults and learn from their mistakes. But, as an intentional leader, it is up to you to move the entire team forward after a mistake. The team’s attention must shift to focus on what needs to be done next and how to bounce back from the problem.
One of the most important attributes of a leader is the ability to admit his or her mistakes.
Since leaders are faced with so many problems and challenges and are in a position to make countless decisions (or avoid them) things inevitably go wrong. The sign of a superior leader is not that he avoids making mistakes, it’s that when he does, he learns from them.
Trust is the currency of leadership. And owning your mistakes builds trust.
You’ve got to know that people buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. Or no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. Our impact as leaders is capped by the ceiling of our trust earned with others. Intentional leaders are not only clear on what trust means and looks like but are also committed to cultivating it with our people…and then maintaining it every day.
How many leaders or managers have you worked with who assume being a good leader simply involves authoritativeness and persuasiveness? While both of these can be good leadership qualities, I’d argue that leading from the front and setting a good professional example can be far more persuasive than simply throwing around one’s authority.
An intentional leader can motivate a team to do better than what the task at hand requires.
And often with a good attitude too. That’s what intentional leadership can do in a workplace and it’s the difference between a job and a career. This approach is particularly effective at motivating a team as the plan of attack is clear, everybody understands what their roles are, and why it is important to stick to them.
As a leader, you have the opportunity to be intentional with your teammates, and by doing so, you may just impart a positive pattern they will soon adopt.
Leadership doesn’t just happen with a snap of your fingers. It happens every day when you take intentional steps that push you and your team to the next level. Know where you want to take your business, keep going in that direction no matter what, and take your team along with you. That’s intentional leadership.
At the end of the day, becoming an intentional leader will help you reach your career goals.
Now, more than ever, you need to bring an intentional leadership mindset to the work you’re doing. Employees need your empathy and communication and the business needs your direction. Use this time as a chance to connect, plan and reevaluate what you can do for your organization and your community. If you want a new perspective and new ideas about how to lead intentionally, I hope you’ll join us at Geeknack!
Digital Dandy. Hacker From Heart. Workaholic. Coding Artist. Self-made.