What does leadership mean to you? Think about it. When you read or hear the term, what comes to mind that to you, represents a leader?

And what if I was to ask you about intention and being intentional? Again, what comes to mind if you read or hear the term intention?

For the purposes of this blog post, I’m going to focus on intention, and what its impact is on leadership and the way people lead.

First up – let’s make sure we’re on the same page and we have a clear definition of what intention is, so you know what it isn’t.

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, intention is something that you want and plan to do. Similarly, you could also look at it as an aim or a goal.

The Power of Intention

However, in saying that, intention is more powerful because it comes from within – it’s about your relationship with yourself and others and it’s the act of being who you want to be.

  • Goals are future focused; intention(s) is about the present and it is lived everyday
  • Goals are external achievements. Intentions are what drive you toward (or away from in some cases) your goals
  • Intention(s) is independent of your goal or achievement

John Maxwell, the highly regarded American speaker and author of internationally best selling book: The 5 Levels of Leadership, is quoted as saying that ‘leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less. When you become a student of leaders, as I am, you recognise people’s level of influence in everyday situations all around you’.

 I agree with this view point – I do though believe that leadership or influence without intention – could result in spinning your wheels and wasting precious energy. Both yours and other people’s.

Why be intetional

Given that we’re now in 2021 – the pitfalls and lessons from 2020 are behind us. Mostly and hopefully for a long while to come. I wanted to start the year with calling out the importance of being intentional. I think for many the word intention / intentional is not well appreciated. Intentions are driven by your values – there is a direct correlation between the two. The clearer you are on your values, the clearer your intentions will become to you and the easier it will be to identify the changes that you may need to make.

Intentions for many are ‘unconscious’. For a lot of us we live busy and complex lives day to day. We set out with an ‘intention’ and somewhere along the way we usually forget about it because we don’t put the necessary strategies in place to nurture them to keep them top of mind.

This is what it’s all about.

Leadership – intentional leadership at that, is about mindset. Your mindset.

Mindset, Clarity and Intention

I really want you to take the time to think about what it is that you want. Is it a promotion, a pay rise in your current role, to move house, retrain in a new field or gain extra skills. Whatever it is, I want you to take some time each day for the next week or so and think about – ‘What do I want’?

When you have the clarity and focus in place of what it is that you want – decide what your intention will be in order to get it. As Stephen Covey so famously wrote in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, start with the end in mind and work your way back to the present.

This will require some reflection on your part to start to understand what’s going on for you internally and how that is impacting your external world. When you understand this and you join those dots for yourself, you will appreciate the relationship between your intentions,  your actions and your mindset.

For the next week – I would love you to set your intentions and think about how they will serve you. What strategies do you need to have in place that will support your intentions?

Do you use post-it notes on your bathroom or bedroom mirror? Do you need to keep a journal? What about alerts in your calendar to remind you to check in on your intentions and whether you are modelling them for yourself and those around you.

Living an intentional life and leading with intention is one of the greatest  and most liberating gifts that you can give to yourself and inspiration that you can give to others.