I had an interesting conversation with a leader a few days ago. The focus of the conversation was reflecting on “Intention”. I find the topic of intention one of the more difficult leadership topics. This is because a leader needs to be brutally honest with themselves and their organization about their true intention, which is never easy. If we each took a few moments to reflect on our “intention” prior to doing anything, we can ask ourselves some simple questions that can provide clarity. The questions might be: do I truly understand my intention, does my true intent align with who I am as a leader, does my intent serve a higher purpose, is it in the best interest of all parties, does my intention come from a good and meaningful place?
Monitoring intention is so powerful. Why? As organizational leaders our true intention and the energy it produces is never hidden. We take our energy with us everywhere we go and our energy is informed by our intention. What does all this mean? Have you ever walked into a room and sensed the energy and you knew right away what kind of a meeting it would be? We know that everything is energy and this includes our thoughts and feelings as leaders. So when the thought is, “I really need my employee to perform better, work harder and be more focused,” the energy this creates aligns with these thoughts. Regardless of our planning and preparation before a meeting with this employee, the energy we take with us will be informed by our intention. In this example, what is the true intention of the leader? We could presume that the intention is to improve the performance of the employee but let’s dig a little deeper on this topic. Is it possible that part of the intention is that life would be easier for the leader if the employee would perform better? The leader’s boss would be happier and things would simply improve in the department. We might simply say, “If this employee did a better job, my life would be easier.” I recognize that most leaders don’t articulate their thoughts this way but if we dig deep we often discover that underneath it all, this is the true intention. As a leader in business we have all felt this at some time or another.
Why is all this important? It is important because when we reflect on how the employee will receive our communication, we might be surprised to learn that we can create a disengaged employee when we haven’t monitored our intention. If we believe we are hiding from the employee our true intention, think again. Our employees are very sensitive to our energy; they can feel the energy being emitted and it impacts how they receive the information.
Here are some simple suggestions on how to monitor intention. You are about to have a difficult conversation with an employee. STOP… ask yourself, what is my intent? What is the story (internal conversation) I have about this employee and the situation? How is this story creating my judgments? Do I have all the information? Am I curious and want to explore and seek to understand their perspective or do I simply want to tell? Do I intend to school or do I want to guide and facilitate growth? Do I truly care about the employee’s success? When we ask these questions before we engage in the difficult conversations, we check in; we monitor our intent.
This gives us an opportunity to adjust, to reflect and to ensure that our intention comes from the right place and can help create positive results.
You can say almost anything to another person if you have monitored your intention and ensured that intention comes from a good place. If you have the conversation when you are mad and need to get something off your chest, need to make a point, need to fix the other person and make them see it your way, your intention comes from your Ego. All of the above are about you, not the other person.
If you truly care about the other person and really want the other person to be successful and your comments, views and approach come from a caring perspective, you cannot go wrong. You will always choose the right words, right timing and right body language. Your energy will reflect your intention and will yield a much better result. Remember, your job as a leader is not to fix broken employees, it is to recognize that if you are not getting the needed results it is you who must change your approach.
It is important to consider intent with all of your activities and actions. Leadership today is not about using power and control to accomplish results. Our true innate sense of being includes caring, compassion and finding opportunities to serve others. To be effective, leaders today need to do their own hard work, ask themselves the hard questions and not be afraid to challenge their old energy and old ways of thinking. This will help to create a workplace where everyone can perform at their best.