There is a lot about leadership that not everyone agrees with, but I believe there is one thing that is undeniable: successful leaders don’t create and sustain success without clear intention and consistent correct action. This is what I call intentional leadership and I explain it in my new book, The Intention Imperative: Three Essential Changes That Will Make You a Successful Leader Today.
No leader creates lasting success by accident. The intentional leader succeeds with a clear vision of what needs to be accomplished and communicates this vision to their team. A clear vision creates a well-defined objective that everyone can see and understand. A lack of clarity creates confusion and confused employees either do the wrong things or nothing at all.
Importantly, intentional leaders share a vision that will benefit everyone, not just him or herself. Unshared success creates uncommitted employees. Consider the roller-coaster summer that WeWork had and the news that CEO Adam Neumann has stepped down. Neumann came under fire after the company’s prospectus filing for the IPO revealed heavy losses and a wide discrepancy in the distribution of power between him and the company’s other shareholders. The filing also shed light on some of Neumann’s alleged self-dealing, including the fact that he had trademarked the name “We” and then licensed it to his own company. Success that benefits only the leader will be short lived.
Clear Intention + Correct Consistent Action = Success
Airbnb is a company conceived after its founders put an air mattress in their living room, effectively turning their apartment into a bed and breakfast in order to offset the high cost of rent in San Francisco. It is now worth more than $31 billion. One anecdote is that the founders had to sell cereal to make some extra cash as their idea struggled in 2008; they were getting bookings here and there, and had plenty of site traffic – but struggled to break a profit with the low amount of bookings. The decided to go to each and every one of their listing locations in NYC, bringing a camera with them to take pictures of the property and uploading it to their site. This method effectively doubled their sales within a month of implementing this strategy – then tripled, and growth continued from there. Their vision was clear and innovative but they had to discover what consistent action would fulfill it.
- Is our organization clear on what we are trying to do and why we are trying to do it?
- Are we easily distracted and change directions often?
- Does everyone understand the right actions they should be taking every day in their roles?
- Are we stuck doing things that used to work but are increasingly ineffective?
Intentional leadership is being crystal clear on what you’re trying to accomplish and taking the right action every day to do it. Your challenge is to lead intentionally.
Mark Sanborn is an award winning speaker and Leadership Expert in Residence at High Point University, the Premier Life Skills University. For more information about his work, visit www.marksanborn.com.