Intent-Based Leadership

Rev Up Your Team With Intent-Based Leadership

What would it look like if your team was motivated to succeed?

If your leadership empowered and inspired others to shine?

If you could use your vision as a leader to connect people?

How do you do it? Lead with intention.

As Leaders, We Must Be Aware of Our Intentions

“Intention is the engine that drives motivated employees, and leaders must remain aware of the intentions they carry into the office with their thoughts, actions and responses.”

William Craig, Forbes.com

Intention is a powerful word – and it’s even more influential when we infuse what it means into how we lead others. By definition, intention is:

  • a determination to act in a certain way : resolve
  • what one intends to do or bring about

In leadership and in life, intentions involve the heart and are therefore deeply rooted. Intentions are all about the process, your process – the “why” in your life, your way of living.

When we focus on our intentions, we’re keeping true to ourselves, our inner values, who we are at our core. It’s all about being present now – unlike goals that are something in the future.

Intentions keep you true to your Self and to your strongest yearnings.

Knowing this, it’s easy to see how critical setting (and being aware of) our intentions are in leadership.

Intent Based LeadershipBringing Intention into the Workplace

When we allow our intentions to guide the way we lead our team, some substantial benefits happen as a result:

  • Employees are empowered as a greater sense of trust is established.
  • Overall work culture is enhanced as people feel a deeper purpose.
  • Individual team members are also encouraged to develop to their full potential.

Seen from a bigger vantage point, these benefits come together to transform an organization, allowing it to establish a greater impact in the products and services it offers as well as the wider social impact it has.

Instead of seeing work as “just a paycheck” to pay the bills, intentions empower us to inspire our teams to find deeper meaning and purpose in their work life.

Intentions keep us connected to our inner core. They help us be more present in all that we do – and to bring our authenticity into every situation.

Lead With Intention to Motivate Your Team

Need a few pointers to lead with intention? Try these:

1- Consider the impact of your words. I’ve spoken a lot about the role of body language in leadership, but words are also important. For instance, you might replace “I” statements with ones that start with “We” instead.

2- Think acceptance, not authority. An impactful leader knows it’s not about “my way or the highway” authoritativeness. Rather, emphasize tolerance and acceptance; be open to new, innovative ideas.

3- Start the conversation about intention. It’s not all about getting everyone on board with your vision and yours alone – encourage employees to share their own unique visions and goals.

4- Set your intention beforehand. Ready to walk into your next meeting? Providing employee feedback? Set your intentions first – a practice that can guide you to stay present and grounded.

5- Define your leadership vision. It’s hard to lead others with intention without a clear image of your own vision. Follow the tips in this HBR article to develop your own captivating image of an achievable future.

Leadership intentionBOLD BONUS TIP: What’s one of the activities that takes up a lot of your time but often produces few measurable results? If you answered “meetings,” you’re not alone.

Optimize productivity by setting an intention to limit meetings to 20% of your time for the day or week. Why? “This creates a healthy balance for the creation of important work while remaining mindful and respectful of each professional’s time,” explains Forbes.com author William Craig.

Intentions Keep Us Grounded

From my own experience as a leader, my intentions keep me grounded. They serve as little prompts to check in with myself, to make sure I’m being kind to myself and to those in my life. They gently nudge me to ask the right questions when it feels like something has gone off track.

More than anything, intentions remind me that life is a journey, and that I’ll enjoy the ride by keeping true to myself. And if I’m not true to myself…if I am not loving the work that I do…why should anyone follow me?

Now, let us all boldly go forward and set our intentions for this day!

Want a quick burst of leadership inspiration, delivered fresh to your inbox each week? Sign up for our FREE Weekly Bold Moves!

Use your intuition

Up Your Leadership Game by Leveraging Your Intuition

Intuition in leadership…really?

For many of us, the word intuition may seem incongruent with leadership.

After all, we’re often taught to leave our emotions out of the office, to rely on hard data, and to seek the counsel of others before making a big decision.

Exactly what is intuition, anyway?

in·tu·i·tion

By definition, the Cambridge Dictionary says intuition is:

“an ability to understand or know something without needing to think about it or use reason to discover it, or a feeling that shows this ability”

That sounds like something every leader would benefit from, doesn’t it?

In the real world, we often refer to intuition in some common ways:

  • trusting your gut
  • following our instincts
  • going with “a feeling”

In some parts of our world, intuition is sometimes stereotyped as “woo woo” or “New Age.” Yet, most of us are guided by our intuition on a frequent basis, even if we’re unaware of it.

There does seem to be a cultural component involved. HBR found that leadership styles really are different around the world: in their 2014 International Business report, they reported that 85% of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) leaders found intuition to be important, in contrast to just 54% in the EU (European Union).

Intuition in Leadership

Why leaders benefit from leveraging intuition

In today’s increasingly complex, dynamic business world, leaders need as many tools as possible to make effective decisions. Intuition can be thought of as our personal “advisor” when we’re called upon to make key decisions.

Beyond decision-making, intuition may serve as a guide in other areas of leadership as well – in everything from managing daily operations to strategizing solutions to challenges large and small.

As many leaders have discovered, relying exclusively on cognitive processing is not an effective strategy – particularly when the situation is multifaceted. The role intuition plays in leadership is explained well in a Forbes article by Bonnie Marcus, who brings a bit of neuroscience into the discussion:

Research in neuroscience tells us that the amount of storage in working memory is limited. We need input from all parts of the brain to manage highly complex decisions.”

Marcus suggests that intuition can be especially useful in business settings where the market is rapidly evolving or where the decision that needs to be made has many interconnected components.

How to use your intuition as a leader

“Successful and consistent deployment of intuition, however, requires more than just domain knowledge. It also requires deep introspection, ‘an intense journey into yourself.’”

-Modesto A. Maidique in HBR

For many people “intuition” might feel somewhat inaccessible – but it’s not nearly as challenging as you might think to connect more deeply with your intuitive self.

Here are 6 of my favorite tips to help you do just thatUse your intuition:

1- Divert your attention. Can’t seem to figure out how to solve a problem? Try a brain break – take the focus off the dilemma and see what happens. Your spark of intuition or that “aha moment” might come when you least expect…

2- Converse with your higher self. Actually, we’re always having a convo with our higher selves – but we’re not always attuned to the messages we’re sending (and receiving). Ask your higher self for the guidance and insight you need to solve a challenging situation.

3- Get creative. Complex problems often need more than a conventional approach, and that’s where intuition comes in. Deepen your intuition by tapping into your creative side to ultimately bring a mix of “head” and “heart” into all that you do.

4- Identify areas of your life where you had an inner knowing…a “gut instinct”…an intuitive feeling. Did you follow it? Why or why not? Bringing an awareness to your intuition can help you use it more effectively in everyday life.

5- Bring intuition into decision-making conversations. Share your own inner feelings, and encourage others to do the same. You may be quite surprised how effective this practice is, and how it can expand your awareness of self and others.

6- Live this beautiful day in the moment. This might be the most important strategy of all. When your mind is fixated on the past or focused on some point in the future, it doesn’t leave much room for you to connect with your higher, intuitive self.

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

-Buddha

Want a quick burst of inspiration, delivered fresh to your inbox each week? Sign up for our FREE Weekly Bold Moves!

Introverted leadership

The Quiet Power of Introverted Leaders

We all know the stereotype of a “successful” leader – outgoing, charismatic, well-rounded, unflappable, confident and assertive – with a pedigree from a top school, of course. In short…an extrovert.

But how accurate is this? (hint: it’s not – few of us fit into any particular “mold”)

Where do introverts fit into the leadership equation?

If you’re an introvert, you’ve probably encountered statements like these during your career:

  • Try being a little more social; you’ll attract so many more opportunities that way.
  • If I were you, I’d speak up more so people actually know what you’re thinking.
  • Be more outgoing! If you want to climb the corporate ladder, you’ve got to be noticed.

Despite conventional wisdom and decades of conditioning in many workplace cultures that outgoing, extroverted leadership is the only way to success, here’s what we really know: introverts make great leaders (oh yes we do!).

How so? Let’s start by putting things in perspective with a great quote from author Rob Asghar in a Forbes article on introverts in leadership:

“There’s no one-size-fits-all kind of leader. The manner of leader your organization needs always depends on the situation.”

power of introverted leadersNow more than ever, the dynamic world we live in demands a range of talented individuals to lead in innovative new ways. It’s undeniable there are settings where extroverts are the best fit. But more and more, organizations are leveraging the distinct advantages introverts can bring.

With their quiet presence, introverted leaders offer a number of benefits

Introverted leaders are often:

  • Driven by productivity. But how will they lead? That’s a common question when hiring an introvert, even when she meets all the other qualifications of the job. Truth? Introverts are absolutely driven to succeed – they’re simply motivated by different factors than their more extroverted counterparts. They may not be as concerned about shining in the limelight, but you can bet their steady presence will guide the organization to success.
  • Pros at solving complex problems. Introverts are able to give thoughtful consideration to problems large and small, methodically outlining the pros and cons to determine the best path forward. Far from adopting a “my way or the highway” mentality, many introverts welcome input and feedback from their teams to develop the smartest course of action.
  • Masterful decision-makers. Decision-making and leadership go hand-in-hand. Here’s a little science for you – a 2012 study found that introverts were more inclined to have larger, thicker gray matter in their prefrontal cortex as compared to extroverts. The prefrontal cortex is associated with abstract thinking and decision-making.
  • Able to develop meaningful relationships. One of the biggest misconceptions about introverts is that they’re not social or interested in building relationships. Yet, many often possess an uncanny ability to strategically develop and maintain lasting relationships. Introverts can be excellent, thoughtful listeners and often do well in one-on-one settings or in smaller groups.
  • Wizards at bringing out the best in others. Introverts value the unique contributions of others and generally emphasize a “we” rather than a more narrow “me” focus. According to an HBR article, “In a dynamic, unpredictable environment, introverts are often more effective leaders—particularly when workers are proactive, offering ideas for improving the business.”

Introverted leadershipIntroverted leaders are all around us

In an increasingly distracted and fast-changing world, we need thoughtful, calm leaders whose capacity for focus and observation are absolutely necessary for teams.”

Henna Inam in Forbes

You may not realize it, but introverted leaders are all around us. In fact, some of the most impactful leaders and change makers throughout history were introverts.

May Inc.com’s list of 23 of the Most Amazingly Successful Introverts in History inspire you today. Some names here might surprise you – but what this really shows is how we all have a unique, meaningful purpose to share with the world.

Here are a few notable names that you may never have guessed are introverts:

  • Former First Lady Hilary Clinton
  • Civil rights activist Rosa Parks
  • Microsoft founder Bill Gates
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg
  • Former US President Barack Obama

Introvert…extrovert…or ambivert?

But what if it feels like you don’t fit into any category – introvert or extrovert? You’re not alone – I’ve actually found that about two-thirds of us are not true extroverts or introverts. We’re actually ambiverts.

Ambiverts have aspects of both traits at their disposal. In other words, think “continuum” rather than “category.” For those of us who don’t fall into any category but rather somewhere on that continuum, the benefits can be substantial because we can thrive in a wider spectrum of environments.

In the real world, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to leadership. At different times in life, we may discover that we’re more aligned with extroverted qualities; at other times, we embrace our inner introvert.

No matter where you fall on the spectrum, know that we are each here to live our purpose and to make a meaningful impact in our world. How will you leverage your unique capabilities to make that happen?

Get a fresh burst of leadership inspiration each week with my FREE Weekly Bold Move – sign up today!

Banish imposter syndrome

How Imposter Syndrome Blocks Our Greatness

Imposter syndrome. It’s a hot topic – we’re talking about it on social media, major news outlets are grabbing our attention with thought-provoking headlines, and well-known public figures are sharing their stories with us. It’s no wonder, then, that many, many leaders out there (including myself) – in being the humans that we are – also suffer from this deadly-to-the-soul syndrome.

Exactly what is the Imposter Syndrome, anyway?

It may be simplest to explain what imposter syndrome is by clarifying what it isn’t. We’ve all probably felt tinges of performance anxiety or stage fright before a major presentation at some point. I know I sure have.

Imposter syndrome is much deeper than a few minutes of anxiety ahead of a big event. It’s a feeling that we don’t belong – that even if we’re a part of something, we don’t deserve to be there. Perhaps you can relate to some thoughts common to imposter syndrome:

  • I don’t belong here.
  • Everyone will know I’m faking it.
  • I didn’t earn / don’t deserve this.
  • It’s a matter of time before I’m exposed.
  • I know they’re secretly judging me.

More specifically, the Cambridge Dictionary defines Imposter Syndrome as:

“the feeling that your achievements are not real or that you do not deserve praise or success.”

Banish imposter syndromeHow often do we let the imposter syndrome block our greatness?

It doesn’t take much effort to realize the profound impact imposter syndrome can have upon our life – as a leader and as a human being. Yet, many of us experience it to a certain degree. We may:

  • Second-guess ourselves excessively
  • Focus intently on how others might view us
  • Overemphasize what we “should be” doing (this one’s my favorite J)
  • Downplay (rather than embrace) our achievements
  • Overly fixate on small or insignificant “failures”

In an aptly titled article, I Don’t Deserve to be Here: Presence and the Impostor Syndrome, Amy Cuddy shares the following quote.

“Impostor-ism steals our power and suffocates our presence. If even you don’t believe you should be here, how will you convince anybody else?”

Wow. How’s that for some deep reflection? Deep but true. Why should anyone else believe we deserve to be here if we don’t? Sounds so simple. If only it were easy to get over. But still…

Envision the power you have to transform your own life experience. What if all the self-deprecating thoughts running through your head were replaced by a celebration of you as a being from the sky with a distinct purpose that only you can fulfill? And more importantly…how do you get to that level of awareness and understanding?

Banish that Imposter and say hello to the authentic, precious YOU!

As with any true transformative experience, imposter syndrome isn’t something you can make vanish with the wave of a magic wand (don’t we wish!). Instead, you’ll need to make a commitment – step by positive step – to come into your own presence and to be ever aware of the inner dialogue that’s running through your head.

Here are some simple steps to help you out on this:

1- Consider a socio-cultural component, rather than a worthiness one: Ask if you’ve been conditioned to see yourself as “less than” or never quite “good enough” to belong. An HBR article points out that research indicates in professional settings, insecurity experienced by women and minorities is more a social issue rather than a psychological one.

“While women are constitutionally just as confident as men, a cocktail of conflicting messages and personal feedback tinged with bias — be more assertive but less confrontational, be authentic but less emotional — puts them in circumstances that would make anyone second guess themselves,” assert authors Weber and Petriglieri.

conquer impostor syndrome

2- Practice the power of the present moment. In leadership and in life, practicing awareness has benefits that stretch far beyond what’s happening in your life right now. After all, INSEAD and Harvard did not list Mindfulness as the #3 top leadership trait for nothing ;-).

We’re all aware that the first step in addressing an issue is recognizing it, and that’s where awareness comes in.

How often are we aware of our own thoughts? The next time a disagreeable or stressful situation arises, we can take a quiet moment to center ourselves and to notice our thought patterns – how familiar is this pattern? What shifts do we notice in our bodies or our minds?

New situations may stoke old fears; future sensations of inadequacy might reawaken long-forgotten insecurities. But the more we are aware of our anxieties, the more we communicate about them, and the smarter we are about how they operate, the easier they’ll be to shrug off the next time they pop up.”

Amy Cuddy

3- Put it all in perspective. Very often, we humans become so focused on “me” that we forget all about the greater “we.” While we’re obsessing over what someone else will think of us or wondering how the perceptions others have of us will affect future professional interactions, we are leaving little time to focus on the bigger picture.

Why is it that we don’t consider that other people – yes, even those we would never guess – are also experiencing many of the same thoughts that we are? What do you think the #1 fear of executives worldwide is?

If you guessed being found incompetent, you’re right on target according to at least one survey. We might all find that by taking the focus off ourselves and expanding our conscious awareness to those around us, our authenticity naturally shines.

And, as always, let’s remember not to be hard on ourselves. Like anything else, this is a process of growth. Over time, the deepened understanding we gain of ourselves expands to include others as well. It’s like peeling away the thickened layers of your consciousness to reveal our unique greatness waiting within.

The result? Deeper meaning and greater authenticity in all that we do, which positively influences our relationships (and just about every other area of life) as well.

Jumpstart your efforts to banish the inner Imposter – sign up today for my FREE e-series, 5 Steps to a More Confident You!

Conscious leadership

Transform into a more conscious leader with these 5 strategies.

Conscious leadership is so much more than tossing around buzzwords of the moment, adding another inspirational image to your Instagram, or tweeting a motivational quote.

The journey of conscious leadership can be thought of as a deep, continual process that ultimately brings the best of your inner self out into the world of form so that you can create the greatest impact as you inspire those around you.

Conscious leaders know that as we expand our understanding of who we are and what our unique purpose is, we’re better able to deepen our impact as our powerful authenticity unfolds, radiating from within out into our sphere of influence.

Tempted?

Here are 5 practical strategies to help you become a more conscious leader:

Conscious leadership
1. Write your purpose statement.

Knowing your personal “why” is key to your own development. You might be surprised at how many people go through the motions of each day (focusing on the “what”) without truly having an understanding of the “why” behind what they’re doing.

One of the most effective ways to get clear on your own “why” is to craft a personal purpose statement. This is just for you – there are no rules to follow, no specific guidelines you must meet – let your creativity flow and use this as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and the visions you have for your future.

2. Cultivate a self-care practice.

Far from being selfish, self care allows you to reenergize you so you can bring your full presence into all that you do. After all, none of us can give from an empty cup.

When it comes to self-care, you don’t really have to “do” anything – there is no special practice to follow, no app to download, no seminar, workshop, or training to attend. Your self-care routine can involve anything that nurtures and soothes you – listen to your heart here and allow yourself to spoil the inner you.

This is the beginning of a virtuous circle around you:  the kinder you are to yourself, the kinder you will likely be to others. The more they receive kindness, the more they can give it to themselves and others. And so on. Think about it: it all starts with you.

Conscious leadershipThink BOLDLY: Today, I encourage you to expand your concept of self-care by taking a few moments out to reflect on all that you’ve accomplished on your journey. And, contrary to what some of you may be thinking, this is not blah-blah. Even HBR has researched and written about how acknowledging our achievements is a form of self-care (“Acknowledging Your Achievements Is a Form of Self-Care”).

3. Focus on the “we” – not the “me.”

The most impactful organizations aren’t solely focused on employee perks. In an article on Inc.com, Glint CEO Jim Barnett takes the concept of conscious leadership a step further by reminding us how conscious leadership can create conscious organizations.

He explains, “The vision behind my conscious leadership style stems from wanting to bring awareness, authenticity and caring to my leadership role. This means I bring my whole, authentic self to work and try to lead from a place of trust, responsibility, curiosity, integrity and ease. I work hard to create an environment with no drama, a focus on “we” not “me,” and where we believe in creating “wins for all” vs. win-lose scenarios.

So, you see: self-care does indeed fit into the greater concept of a whole conscious organization. When we’re willing to take good care of ourselves first, we lay the foundation to bring our best, most authentic presence into all that we do. Thus, we lay the foundation necessary to inspire others to do the same, resulting in a cumulative positive effect.

4. Encourage feedback.

Many leaders find they’re more focused on giving feedback rather than receiving it. Truth be told, many leadership articles focus on how to effectively give employee feedback. And rightly so – constructive feedback fuels the growth of an organization by bringing attention to what needs to change while highlighting what’s already working. This same concept can deepen your capacity to lead with far greater ease.

Inviting others to share their honest feedback with you is a win-win situation – you gain valuable insight and perhaps the chance to better recognize your blind spots that could use attention. Plus, you enjoy the opportunity to cultivate trust and deepen your relationships.

One caveat here, though: remember to balance developmental feedback with feedback about what makes us great. All of us exhibit greatness. And, as humans, all of us – at all levels of the organization – need to be reminded of it and know others see it as well.

5. Be inspired every single day.

If you’re not fully grounded, it can sometimes be challenging to navigate the often turbulent waters of life. A quick visit to Facebook, Twitter, or any conventional news outlet often yields a whole lot of drama.

Conscious leadersLet this motivate you to find inspiration in everything. When you find that a situation seems discouraging or downright disturbing, ask:

  • What can be learned from this?
  • Is there a way I can positively contribute or serve others?
  • What might be happening beneath the waterline, that is, just below the surface of human perception?

It’s so important to know that conscious leadership is an ever-evolving process of growth and deeper understanding – not a once-and-you’re-done task.

Gain more practical tips and easy-to-implement strategies to help you transform into a more conscious leader…sign up for my free Weekly Bold Moves right here, delivered fresh to your inbox each week!