Leaders have the responsibility of leading the charge to accomplish major goals for an organization. However, some leaders lack clarity about how those goals align not only with the broader strategic business objectives but also with their own professional development. This lack of clarity can result in confusion, miscommunication, and delayed or failed projects. The key to successful outcomes is setting clear intentions at the outset and flexing the underlying tasks that will lead to achievement of the ultimate goal.

Vision

Companies create vision statements to communicate a future state the company wants to achieve or embody. Vision can represent a tangible objective or an intangible philosophy, but regardless of form, it drives the operation of the organization and the initiatives it undertakes, and it defines the culture of the business as a whole. Therefore, it is imperative that leaders understand the broader vision of the company and set intentions for their teams that align with the vision.

Intention-setting begins with a clear understanding of the desired end state or vision, and effective leaders design and direct the work of their teams in direct correlation to it. In addition, leaders are best served when they are able to connect their own professional development goals to the vision. When undertaking a project, leaders should define their intentions around the skills and experience they want to develop in the process. Setting personal intentions allows leaders to look beyond their comfort zone as they expand their development in service of the organization’s vision.

Communication, Inspiration and Empowerment

When leaders set intentions for their teams in alignment with the company’s vision, the next step is to communicate those intentions clearly with others. Leaders and teams often express frustration because they do not understand how their hard work on individual projects fits into the big picture. Without that understanding, teams not only are disconnected from the goals of the organization, but they also lose the motivation to engage at their optimal performance levels.

Imagine that your career is devoted to making tires, but you had no idea those tires were made for automobiles. Without an understanding of the intended use of the tires, your manager could not expect you to understand the need for innovation and technological development to improve speed and safety, nor could you have the insight to understand the impact of developments in the automobile industry that would allow you to think strategically to anticipate upcoming customer needs or economic impacts.

It’s not enough for leaders to understand and set intentions; they must also be able to clearly communicate how the intention translates to daily operations and, in turn, connect to larger organizational initiatives. Being able to communicate intentions allows leaders to inspire team members by helping them connect their strengths, knowledge and contributions to broader organizational goals. Employees are empowered to explore new opportunities, find creative solutions and expand their own leadership when they understand not just the “what” but also the “why.” The role of a leader is to communicate the why.

Agility

You have to understand the process in order to break it. This adage ties to the new concept of agility in that when you have a good understanding of the “what” you’re trying to accomplish, you can be more innovative and pivot from old directives and plans quickly and effectively. By setting intentions, leaders can maintain their focus on the future state and not become attached to any one process or strategy to reach it. This ability to remain detached from process or dogma allows leaders, and their teams, to make decisions and design projects based on the best information available and to remain agile enough to change plans midstream. Then, they can arrive at the future state from a sounder and more scalable course of development. In short, leaders should stay aligned with the intention, not the process.

Leaders who incorporate conscious and deliberate intention into their roles experience more successful outcomes and improved team performance. Whether you are a leader in the executive suite or in cubicle, the key tenets of intention-setting remains the same:

  • Understand the vision, and align intentions both individually and organizationally.
  • Hone the ability to communicate intentions to inspire and empower others.
  • Maintain focus on the intention to foster agility and innovation.

Take time today to set the intentions that will allow you to move everyone toward the future.

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