What does intentional leadership look like? For me, intentional leadership means leading on purpose, leading for a purpose, and leading to an ultimate objective. While there are many things intentional leaders do, let’s talk about three things the intentional leader doesn’t do. 

1. Intentional leaders never whine

As uncertain and unpredictable as today’s business environments can be, many people — often the very people we are leading — have it far worse than you and I do.

In a recent discussion on reducing fraud with one of our executive mastermind groups, a leader lamented front-line employees afraid to make decisions for fear of messing up and getting fired. For an executive with a wide range of skills and connections, losing a job is a hardship, yes. But many front-line employees would literally not be able to feed their families if they lost their jobs. 

Leaders who talk about their particular situation in a way that employees would characterize as whining are seen as out of touch, tone-deaf, and unfamiliar with or concerned with the circumstances of their people. It’s my opinion that people are repelled by, not drawn to leaders who whine. To be an intentional leader… don’t whine.

2.  Intentional leaders never whisper.

The act of whispering can be described as talking softly. But in the workplace, whispering can also be interpreted as gossip, separatism or cliquishness, surveillance, plotting, or tattling.

When employees see their leaders whispering, they start to wonder and worry. They may even become a little bit paranoid, thinking, “Are they talking about me?” Or they begin to question, ”What do they know that I don’t know? Why are they withholding that information? Can I trust that person going forward or not?”

Information that needs to be shared should be shared publicly. If it’s not to be shared publicly, leaders shouldn’t stand off in a corner “whispering” — doing so sends mixed messages.

To whisper can create doubt and mistrust in the minds of others. Intentional leaders know solid relationships with their people won’t last long when undermined by doubt and a lack of trust. Intentional leaders don’t whisper.

3. Intentional leaders never wonder. 

When circumstances arise that you’re just not sure about, research, investigate, and ask questions to confirm or refute your thinking. Know the facts before you share your “wonderings.” Otherwise, you’re creating confusion in the minds of those who see you as their source of factual information.

To put it simply, don’t share information that has not been confirmed or validated. Make sure that when you open your mouth and people hear from you, they know that they can take that information to the bank. 

Intentional leaders are purposeful — intentional — in how they think, how they speak, and how they act. 

Are You An Intentional Leader?

Before you leave this post, take a moment and consider how intentional you are as a leader. Are some of your leadership actions less than on purpose? In what ways could you start thinking, speaking, or acting to improve your intentionality? 

One purposeful step in the direction of your desired leadership objectives may be exactly what it takes to realize more impactful employee relationships and greater organizational results — the ultimate intent of a great leader!

Steer where you stare

To kickstart your efforts, use this idea to get focused on being more intentional, or watch these videos for other things great leaders do!

For more helpful leadership ideas, check out our other blog posts!

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Phillip Van Hooser

Phillip Van Hooser, CSP, CPAE, Founder & Chair, Van Hooser Leadership. A seasoned leadership expert, keynote speaker, and author, Phillip Van Hooser is passionate about developing intentional leaders who can effectively engage and empower their employees to deliver powerful results. His most recent book is “Earning The Right To Be Heard," a primer for creating greater influence and opportunities. Connect with Phil on LinkedIn.


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