Intentional Leadership:

3 Strategies for Breaking Through To Next Level Results

When I ask my clients whether they made an intentional choice in life to become leaders, so many of them say that they really didn’t. Most sort of “ended up” in leadership roles because at some point, either as kids or adults, they saw a need and saw themselves as the perfect person to fill it.

These are not necessarily “reluctant leaders.” Even though they may not have begun to lead intentionally, they felt the call to lead and bravely heeded it. The problem only arises when a lack of clarity and confidence about the next steps in their career path creeps in, or they lack sufficient support to meet their vision. Consequently, they may find themselves questioning their continued leadership. They begin to feel as if they are “spinning their wheels” or “up against a wall.”

That is usually where I come in.

Typically, I connect with leaders at this pivotal point because they are determined to conquer the challenges impeding them on their leadership path. They yearn to identify the skills they need to get next-level results. For some, “next-level” might mean a step into a new role within a company, or for others, it might mean transitioning into an ownership mindset. Whatever the desired step, the remedy is universal: leading with intention. The alternative, going forward blindly or on instinct alone, can be torturous.

The good news is that getting to the next level on your leadership journey doesn’t have to be torturous. Whether your next move is becoming a partner in your firm, taking on a director’s role, fostering diversity in your enterprise, or rocking client relations into the stratosphere, you can create a more measurable—and predictable—impact, beginning with these steps.

1. Identify Your Genius
Every leader has superpower that defines them. One of my favorite, wicked smart clients will readily tell you that he lacks a deep technical knowledge of his industry. His true genius lies in inspiring people to become the best version of themselves, in alignment with their vision and values. In the work that we do in Mindful Leaders Academy™ and our Next Step Leadership™ programs, we always begin with a “genius” conversation. What comes out of this discussion is a two-fold revelation: that 1) you do not have to miraculously become someone you are not to have the impact you want, and 2) your genius is the key to making your vision work.

There is no “type” of person that makes the ideal leader. Taking the DISC behavioral profile as an example, I have seen that D’s, I’s, S’s, and C’s can all be exceptional leaders if they were willing to do certain things:

  • Intentionally lead
  • Intentionally grow as a human being
  • Intentionally grow their insight
  • Intentionally grow the ability to inspire and connect with others

When you “lead with genius,” you bring a unique energy and focus to your leadership.

2. Identify and Fill In Your Gaps
The flip side of pinpointing your “genius” is that you must also step back and analyze what skills you lack that keep you from realizing your vision. You can’t be a leader, for example, and say, “I’m too shy to connect with people.”

I frequently work with leaders who say, “I really don’t want to have difficult conversations.” Well, no one wants to have difficult conversations. But there are ways we can work constructively to fill that skill gap. One of the skills I teach is to frame these conversations from a principle-based perspective. As a leader, you determine your team principle and everyone’s role in creating certain outcomes. There is no perfection; there is simply progress toward a standard or goal. Even the most confrontation-averse leader can close a “people skills” gap using this framework. Conversations become more about principles than personalities.

Identifying gaps is where my own genius lies, and it is something I have carried from business to business throughout my career. I excel at understanding where you are, where you want to be, and how to fill the intervening space to get you unstuck.

3. Ask Yourself Quality Questions
One of the most impactful things that I learned when coaching for Tony Robbins years ago was that the quality of our lives depends on the quality of the questions we ask ourselves. If you have come to a pinch point in your career, don’t just ask yourself why you are stuck. Ask yourself questions like:

  1. How can I best work through this frustration?
  2. How can I best get unstuck?
  3. How can I personally develop to better inspire my team?
  4. How can I best analyze my situation to get better results?

Filling in the right blanks will tell you what your next step is and take you from being an accidental leader to an intentional leader.

One of the most important things I teach is how to take a step back and look at where you can lead more intentionally. One strategy is to ask others for their insight to these questions: “What do you think I need to learn? What is it about me that makes me a good leader?” Other people can see things in you that you might not see yourself.

You can also do self-assessments to get some clarity. We have many of them within our leadership programs, analyzing behavior, strengths, presence, and brand. Through them, you can find answers to questions like, “Who do I want to be as a leader? Do I want to be inspiring? Do I want to be the most technically savvy? Do I want to be considered an exceptionally strategic leader?” Remember, you can’t be everything to everybody; you can only be a leader with your unique genius, your particular expertise, and your personal values.

Discover the Joy of Intentional Leadership
Intentional leadership is about making up your mind to lead despite your challenges. There are no challenge-free leadership opportunities, and it takes discipline to do the kind of personal development work I am suggesting. My clients report, however, that the energy and sense of joy that comes out of intentional leadership is liberating and fruitful.

It would be my honor to help you become a mindful leader through Mindful Leaders Academy™ and our Next Step Leadership™ programs. You can find us on Facebook in the Next Step Leadership Experience group, which is connected with a podcast on insightful, inspired, impactful leadership—click here to join us!

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