A frustrated leader screams at a valued employee in public. Another talks over a subordinate while wondering why his people don’t speak up more. Both leaders have done something (with no conscious intention) that is likely to damage their effectiveness as leaders.
We all do things and say things that have impacts we don’t intend. We excuse ourselves with “I didn’t mean to say that;” “The devil made me do it;” “That wasn’t me.” Or we blame someone for the mess we’ve made. It’s no use, the damage is done.
A leader will damage their effectiveness if their impact is too often out of sync with a more thoughtful intention.
Some intention is behind each of our actions. Most of our intentions, however, are automatic and unconscious from having become habit, like the leader who thoughtlessly talked over one of his people. Or our automatic reactions may intend to relieve stress, as with the frustrated leader.
In either case, the impact of their actions produced undesirable results out of sync with more thoughtful intentions.
As mentioned, everything we say and do has an impact, but do your actions and your words trigger undesirable impacts you do not intend?
Walking into a meeting, many leaders simply intend to get some set of business conducted with little intention directed at their impact on their people. The lack of such intentions invites their people to join the “great resignation.”
As a leader you must have multiple intentions working at the same time. At a minimum you must be clear about your intended impact regarding getting work done and maintaining a healthy work atmosphere and culture. It fits the sentiment: “it’s not just what you say, but also how you say it.”
Without the healthy work atmosphere or culture, the work may get done, but not without struggle or subpar results.
Leaders who talk over their people, who castigate in public, or otherwise behave in ways that create a negative atmosphere have no conscious intention to create such an atmosphere. They are simply unaware of the impact they are having is not what they would intend.
Being aware and thoughtful about our intentions is an important use of self. It allows us to notice whether the intentions of our behavior are creating the impact we desire. If not, we can recalibrate our behavior to better achieve the intended impact.
The world of organizations has become a world that overvalues multi-tasking and speed. Both cause us to move from task to task, from meeting to meeting, from person to person with little clarity about the impacts the intend to make.
Slow down, think through the impacts you intend to make. By slowing down and being conscious about how are using yourself; you will help your people, your teams, your organization to be more effective!
Our next article will be about how to use yourself consciously to increase the influence you have with others. Something no leader can do without!
There is always more to learn about creating impressive teams and organizations. You will significantly deepen your understanding and skills for working with organizations and teams if you sign-up for the powerful programs: “The Nine Disciplines of Leadership & Self-Mastery and The Seven Core Actions of Complex Change.”