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3 Ways to Develop an Intentional Approach to Leadership

What is Intentional Leadership?

Good leaders care about the people they lead. They make sure their teams are clear on goals and objectives and that they are empowered and aligned with the organization's overall direction.

Intentional leadership is effective in the workplace because it empowers teams with the knowledge and tools they need to meet objectives. When everybody is confident in their role and understands their contribution's impact on the big picture, it sets leaders and teams up for success.

Why is Intentional Leadership important?

Lack of intention in leadership can cause harm to teams and affect confidence and motivation. Without clear direction, teams can become confused and frustrated, which can negatively impact organizational outcomes.

3 Ways to Develop an Intentional Approach to Leadership + Bonus Leadership Self-awareness Checklist(s)

1. Prioritize Personal-development

We've all heard the saying: "Leaders are made, not born." But what does that mean?

Leadership is a skill, not a talent. It's one thing to have a natural ability to lead, but empowering yourself through continued learning helps leaders guide and inspire others to show up too.

What does it take to be an effective leader? First and foremost, you must be committed to your own personal development. A leader who knows that there is always more to learn and improve upon will be able to help others grow as well.

Personal-development Checklist:

  • Do you know your leadership style?

  • Do you understand the different leadership styles and how they can be adopted for different scenarios?

  • Are you communicating clearly and effectively

  • Are you a self-aware leader?

2. Build Trust

Leading with intention requires leaders to help their teams discover the answers for themselves. Sometimes as a leader, it's essential to get out of the way - this may seem hard at first!

You might be worried about losing control over what happens next, but this is where leading with intention comes in: Instead of telling your team what to do, ask them what they think is the best course of action. Encourage them to come up with their own solutions. Don't make decisions for them—instead, guide them to figure it out independently.

It takes practice to let go of your ideas and suggestions. But when it works, it's beautiful. Teams feel empowered, which motivates and builds trust because they can see their contributions are valued.

Fostering Trust Checklist:

  • Acknowledging your shortcomings (I’m human too)

  • Having your team's back

  • Proving space for your team to be heard

  • Being proactive vs. reactive

  • Leaving ego at the door when communicating/collaborating

  • Leading with empathy over judgment

3. Engage and Show Interest

Good leaders know the value of taking an interest in their teams.

Team connection is about more than status reports and delegation. Taking an interest in your team members individually helps you understand their talents, motivations, and goals and can build respect between you and them. Respect is a huge motivator for both parties and can be huge for productivity!

This is especially true for employees who are not just seeking a salary but also fulfillment and job satisfaction.

Fostering Engagement Checklist:

  • Understanding the needs of your team

  • Asking questions/staying curious

  • Carving out time for routine check-in’s with team members

  • Identify/acknowledging your team members working styles

    • Who likes to work fast and requires communication that is direct?

    • Who is more methodical and needs time to understand and plan before starting a task.

On the surface intentional leadership seems simple: It's creating a plan and effectively communicating it to a team of people to execute. However from the leadership lens intentional leadership is much more nuanced than that. It’s actually a layering of hard and soft skills that require training and development, and well…the intention to do so.

Are you interested in developing your skills to become an intentional/human-centric leader? Check out our Whole Person Leadership Cohort info page to learn more.


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