Intentions are essential. Knowing if our intentions are showing up in the right way is challenging, less so if we take the time to define them and then really lead in this defined manner.
Even then, intention is only a third of the formula. leadership intentions, along with core beliefs and positive, growth-oriented actions, enable an individual to become an effective leader.
All this is good, but how do you really know if you are aligning well in all three areas?
Three Elements of Effective Leadership
- A leader’s core beliefs
- A leader’s intent
- A leader’s actions
Each Can Be Defined With 3 Simple Questions
- What do you really believe is the essence of who you are? (intentions/beliefs)
- What will you do each day to let your core beliefs and intentions shine through? (actions)
- How will others recognize what you believe, and will they be able to state it just as you would hope? (checkpoint)
We can make it more complicated, but why should we? Let’s really spend the time to answer these three questions and get at the heart of our leadership.
Leadership Checks & Balance
Now, comes the challenging part:
- How will you know?
- How will you check your leadership in each of the three elements?
- How will you know if you are maintaining balance between the three leadership elements?
The reality is your leadership intentions and actions are where to focus. Core beliefs are just words waiting for actions to match. A leader’s intentions and actions are where the answers to the leadership test appear. To test your leadership intentions and actions, here are a few places to begin:
Self-Reflection – Although this is what you see when you look in the mirror, if you have a soul of any sort, you will begin to see who you really are or what you have become. Self-reflection may come by asking yourself the tough questions, meditating, praying, or just taking a long, long walk to contemplate who you are or what you have become. Start here, but don’t end here.
Other-Reflection – Look at the nonverbal cues from people you work with. Do they readily engage with you? Do they give you honest feedback openly? Do people really want to work with you, or do they try to avoid you at almost any cost? What do you see in the eyes of the people across the table from you? Although this is another form of self-reflection, as you are relying on your own interpretation of what you see, this is still an important thing to do.
Open Feedback – Find someone who doesn’t work for you and knows you well. This person needs to be around you often enough to see how you act and how others react to you. Sit down with them and then ask them: What do my intentions show? What do my actions say? Be open. Listen. Adjust.
Blah, Blah, Blah – Yes, that is what you are thinking right now, and so am I. The truth of the matter is leaders without healthy intentions and positive actions don’t know it because they have little self-reflective capabilities. Ultimately, team members flock to other organizations and companies. A board may finally step up and fire them. In the end, they are left in a corner, and some may end up in prison.
Leaders without healthy intentions and positive actions end up doing a lot of harm until some higher authority finally addresses the wrongs done. Don’t be this person. Develop your self-reflective skills and ensure others deliver an honest, frequent assessment of how you are doing.
My Advice For Leaders Is Simple Develop a healthy self-reflection capability before you end up on the sidelines or taken away. The time is now to step up your leadership standards and capabilities. Knowing your core beliefs, your intentions, and the impact of your actions are all part of an effective leadership formula. If you haven’t aligned these three and have healthy checks in place, then change.