How Leading & Living More Intentionally Can Improve Your Effectiveness
It’s easy to get caught up in the busy pace of life and forget about what’s truly important. The global COVID pandemic added additional complexity and stress for nearly everyone, but our advice to leaders is: Don’t forget to think about who you are, and how you want to show up every day.
We have choices. We can live and lead with intention. We can ask, and we can decide.
But all too often, we just default to the status quo.
Living with intention is important for both work and home life. As we all know, our personal and professional lives often overlap — and that’s true now more than ever before.
Intentional Leadership: Living With Intention
3 Ways to Live With Intention at Both Work & Home
1. Gain self-clarity by identifying your values.
Living with intention requires first that we understand ourselves and what we value most, so that we become aware when we fall out of integrity. Values are personal, deeply held principles or ideas that guide our thoughts and actions and define who we are at our core.
Take some time to reflect on your values and become more self-aware about what you personally hold dear. Everyone’s values are different, and you may have never spent much time seriously considering yours. For example, you may realize that you place special weight on honesty, justice, efficiency, innovation, wealth, freedom, authenticity, etc. (We recommend using our Values Explorer™ cards to help leaders better understand their own values, at both the individual and organizational levels.)
Once you narrow down the list to your top values, you have a powerful tool to help you in making decisions in the future. Keep that list where you can refer to it regularly. It’s a good idea to have a conversation where you share your values with people in your life you interact with the most — your boss, direct team members, your family, etc.
Living with intention is about doing our best to make sure our behaviors are in line with what we value. Completing this exercise is a good way to gain clarity for yourself — both at work and at home — and then set goals that align with your values .
Remember, we tend to judge ourselves by our intentions, while others judge us by our behaviors.
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2. Act with agency.
We are active players in our lives. Instead of standing back and letting life “happen” to us, we can practice living with intention by choosing how to spend our time and invest our energy.
Agency is about taking control of your present and future, knowing that in any given moment, you’re shaping your job, your leadership style, and your life. It begins with identifying a desired goal and then actively pursuing the experience, behaviors, skills, or relationships that will put you in a position to achieve that goal.
To start acting with greater agency, evaluate your calendar using the lens of your values. How are you are spending your time, both personally and professionally? Does your calendar reflect your top values? Don’t fall into the trap of saying “yes” to things by default, as that may mean you’re spending your time in ways that are out of alignment with your values.
Determine what your ideal self looks like at home and at work, and from there, identify the actions and behaviors you must take in order to show up as that ideal version of yourself. Make a commitment to small shifts that add up to big changes. You’ll see that as you repeat these shifts, they’ll quickly become habits, which then turn into your daily reality.
For example, if you have a personal goal to eat healthier to better support brain function , you might set an intention to spend time on Sunday prepping your meals for the week ahead. Or if you have a professional goal of improving time management, intentionally decide to write out and prioritize your to-do list for the next day before closing down your work in the evening. Work to ensure your calendar reflects your priorities and is helping you live in more alignment with your values.
Acting with agency is also important for establishing your desired leadership brand . (Your leadership brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room: What do you want that to be? What do you need to do to create it? )
3. Optimize your partnerships.
Healthy, productive relationships are critical both at home and at work. And just like reaching our goals, they take intentional action and commitment to build and maintain.
Optimize your partnerships by understanding yourself and collaborating with the people in your life in a way that complements your own strengths and challenge areas.
In terms of your personal life, balancing parenting and leadership responsibilities can be challenging. During pandemic lockdowns especially, spending so much time together in tight quarters with new responsibilities may have been especially stressful. But instead of becoming overwhelmed or acting out of line with your intentions, you may have optimized your partnerships by looking for additional types of support and dividing up tasks by natural strengths and availability. (For example, if one member of your household was out of work, they may have become the designated grocery shopper, even if that wasn’t their normal responsibility before.)
When it comes to work, professional relationships are key partnerships to optimize. The right relationships and ties are known to be an asset in getting access to information, earning promotions, and gaining opportunities. Effective leaders have a network perspective and rely on trusted partners to get results.
And if you’re leading remote employees or in a hybrid or work situation, it’s critical to keep the lines of communication open. Work to understand which communication channels are best for your team members and don’t overlook the opportunity to collaborate and network while still in pursuit of achieving your organization’s shared goals.
A Closing Thought on Leading & Living With Intention
Ultimately, living with intention is about developing your capabilities in service of a chosen goal, rather than one that just happens to be there — and in ways that will have the most impact. This looks different for each person and requires understanding yourself. If you still aren’t sure where to start, learn more about practicing holistic leadership .
There is great power in the choosing , in leading and in living with more intentionality.
Ready to Take the Next Step?
Help your people connect personal values to organizational goals and live with intention. We can partner with you to provide a customized learning journey for your leaders using our research-backed modules. Available leadership topics include Authentic Leadership , Communication, Emotional Intelligence, Listening to Understand, Resilience-Building, Self-Awareness , and more.