Being intentional is something many leaders struggle with today. It’s not that they don’t want to be intentional, but the priorities, obstacles, and distractions keep piling up.
While speaking with a CEO the other day, she shared that her goal this year was to be more intentional about her decisions and actions related to achieving the corporate strategy.
Her challenge, however, was having to constantly put out fires, from employee vacancies to supply chain delays. As a result, she found herself reverting to old habits of rushing to make decisions as quickly as the questions arose.
Despite the value of leading with intention, most executives I’ve spoken with find their ability to focus and remain true to their purpose a challenge. They set and commit to a strategic direction, only to be diverted away to various other priorities based on demands made by their board. They intend to support the development of their staff but become deflated after several top performers leave to seek other employment. Their focus is on being more self-reflective gets lost amidst a day packed with back-to-back calls, meetings, and a never-ending stream of challenges to contend too.
All this, and it’s only 9 a.m.
Although there are several steps you need to take to lead with intent, I recommend three to the presidents, CEOs, and sales executives I advise. These are fundamental to sustaining intention over time.
1. Get clear on what matters to you
Being intentional requires that you have clear goals and objectives. These can be overarching goals like your corporate strategic objectives or personal, such as development plans for specific employees.
Here’s the key: If your reasons for being intentional aren’t clear, and if they don’t align with your objectives, there is a great chance you won’t sustain your intent.
When I decided to quit my secure job back in 2009 and launch my coaching and consulting business, my goals were simple. I wanted to build a company where I could assist clients worldwide and earn enough to support my family.
It wasn’t until I unpacked this statement that I realized my intention. My underlying purpose was to help clients accelerate their sales results, sharing the insights and best practices I learned throughout my career. I thrive by working with dozens of clients worldwide, which provides the variety and experiences I could never gain from a 9-5 job.
2. Set an intention so purposeful that you must commit
When I first launched my business, I had no option but to commit if I was going to succeed. I equated failing to establish my business to letting my family down. It’s not something that anyone would take lightly.
When you have an intent that you are committed to, your chances of remaining focused increase exponentially.
3. Document your progress, good and bad
When it comes to being intentional or even setting a goal, studies have shown that writing down your intentions is crucial to your success. For example, a study by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University of California, found that we become 42% more likely to achieve our goals and dreams when we write them down daily.
It’s one thing to write down our goals and intentions. Yet when we review and then write down our progress it adds an entirely different level of accountability.
I’m not suggesting journaling, although this could work. Instead, score yourself every week once you’ve assessed your progress.
Remaining intentional requires that we are transparent and honest with ourselves. There will be times we will go astray, but reviewing our progress regularly gives us a greater chance to catch and correct our path when it’s leading us away from our original intention.
Regardless of your intentions, leading with them is a noble pursuit that requires valiant effort.
By continuing to come back to these three steps, you ensure that you have purpose, commitment, and accountability. This will keep you on track despite the inevitable challenges and distractions around you.