“Are you intentional about the sort of influence you want to have on the world around you?” John Maxwell
Individual things can have individual meanings. On their own, they provide a unique purpose. Put two together, and the meaning and purpose expands. Think of this like seasonings. Garlic is an ingredient that adds to any dish. It creates a very distinct flavor profile. Add ‘salt’, a core ingredient in almost every recipe, and now it provides more to that profile. When we join two things together, each with a specific purpose, they expand. They become more.
Intention, Influence, and Intentional Influence
Intention on its own is powerful. It is defined as a determination to act in a certain way. To be focused in manner and approach to our desired actions towards a desired outcome. Beyond just thinking intentionally, it is about how we act intentionally. I am reminded of a quote by Janna Cachola, an actor from New Zealand, who shared, “I don’t need to be vocal about my intentions, I am just intentional about my actions.” To be, act, and live intentionally.
There is influence. This is defined as the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself. To direct effort towards the extent of something. It establishes a link between our actions and the ripple those actions are intended to create. This echoes the concept of circle of influence. To identify things that concern you, and that you can do something about.
Separately, they can be powerful tools in our leadership. To lead intentionally towards a desired outcome. To create influence in the people and situations within our control. Now combine them. What is different? How do we expand possibility and purpose?
Transforming Intentional Influence into Intentional Leadership
Imagine your team. Think about them and consider something you all face. Maybe you are implementing a new sales program. Maybe it is a process or system, designed for maximum operational efficiency. Maybe it is how the organization is elevating the culture and brand to ensure a deeper collective understanding, and how it is lived out. How does this ingredient factor in your “doing-ness”? And how can intentional leadership bring you closer to your goals?
The reason I feel strongly about this combination is because I have partnered with managers and leaders with the best of intentions, but who never live out those intentions. They never get to the potential influence because, for whatever reason, they cannot commit to and engage in the action. They cannot live out intentional leadership. So, how do we respond?
Start Thinking about Intentional Leadership Today
Get a sheet of paper and a pen. Draft your answers to some or all of following questions:
- What are you passionate about in your leadership? Think skillset and mindset
- Why do people follow you?
- What does your team need from you?
- Think of one of your greatest achievements. What did it take for you to reach that outcome?
- How do you define success?
- What is your routine for ensuring your team’s success?
- If I watched “game film” of your leadership in action, what would it say was most important to you?
- Do your actions show that you recognize how to be intentional?
- Does your leadership reflect a program of mentorship for your team?
- What is your leadership legacy?
I answered these questions and saw some gaps in my leadership. Some having to do with my intentionality, some with how I see my influence. I did not see a delta with only one or the other, but rather varying degrees of each. Especially when you put them both within the same perspective. I actually have stopped seeing them as separate, and have begun seeing how mutually beneficial they are. What did you learn?
Intentional Leadership as Program of Mentorship
John Maxwell is famous for saying, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” I find that to be the simplest way to embrace this ingredient, and to embrace intentional leadership. To know what is important, live it out, then come alongside our team to encourage, help, challenge, inspire, and support them towards that importance by building a team culture that reflects this intentionality. We get to do that.
Intentional Influence is our commitment to leading our teams well. If we have taken on the responsibility of leadership, we must be intentional with our motives and our purpose, and then leverage that in how we approach building and influencing a team. In delivering this type of mentorship by example, we demonstrate that intention and influence are linked together, just as we are linked to the success of our teams.
How to be intentional in your leadership
- Before making decisions – personal, team or organizational – check your motives
- Perform 360° assessments to survey and check the extent of your intentional leadership
- Consider your culture and core values, and then ask yourself or your team how these are being lived out
- Of the things you have implemented, assess how many are still in play and to what degree
- Create a peer group or mentorship program to share best practices on how to be intentional
- Make ‘intentional influence’ a line item in your daily/weekly “to do” lists; use the term “I will…”
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