A simple question to ask myself before a new month, before a new day, before a meeting, or even in a meeting before I give someone a specific input.
Why do I do what I do and what do I want to succeed with? How can I expand my intention and also connect it to my learning?
Intention comes from the Latin verb intendere. From the beginning with the meaning to stretch, to expand. The meaning has wandered through the centuries, for example to the French entender – to hear and to perceive.
Part of the word’s journey has always been about transferred meanings of stretching, as in stretching after, striving.
So, a combination of perception and effort has followed the path of intention.
When the word intention is used within the social science context it is about describing an individual’s relationship to their own, future behavior. Or as the causal variable that precedes our acting or exhibited behavior.
The dictionary gives us the words objective and purpose. And that is perhaps the core of the word intention now. In the integration between objective and purpose, between what I want to achieve and why. My relationship to my own future behavior – a causal variable that precedes my actions. To intend, to mean.
Growing as a leader and achieving more with less energy is largely about becoming aware of and then expanding your intention.
What do you really want to succeed with? What perspectives do you consider when deciding on what you want to achieve? The point here is once we start focusing on this, we realize that we can succeed in many different things at once (thus achieving more with less energy).
Take the example of a manager who wants to push through a certain decision in a certain meeting. What happens when she only focuses on getting that done? And what happens when she expands her intention: What do I want to succeed with in the long term, what learnings do I want to create, what kind of culture do I want to nurture, how do I use this opportunity to increase the maturity of the group, etc.
I think it’s important that we let our intention expand, rather than shifting focus (which is another process). In the example above, for example, if she would completely let go of her first intention, to come to a decision, the gain is lost. Growth occurs when we challenge ourselves in “both and” rather than “or”.
Finally, it is also important to use the intention in relation to my learning.
We all know that we should build more reflection time into our calendars. We know that it is good to reflect and evaluate our leadership and to actively seek feedback.
To increase the effectiveness of our reflection, requesting feedback and learning, it is effective to link this to the intention I have.
It is in the light of our intention that we should make the subsequent reflection. It doesn’t always make sense to generally ask: – Did I carry out this meeting or this process in a good or bad way?
If person A asks the question after a management meeting to person B: -Could you give me some feedback. Maybe person B should ask the counter-question: – What was your intention into the meeting, what did you want to succeed with and how did you want to be in the meeting? If person A really thought this through before the meeting, the conversation will be much more effective. And in a similar way, of course, we could think about our inner dialogue.
So, a process to increase your own learning can look like this:
- Be clear about your intention
- See if you, with more perspectives, can expand your intention
- Link reflection and feedback to your intention
Talking about right or wrong in leadership is seldom meaningful. However, we can talk about awareness or unawareness – and awareness is always better.
So, what is your intention? And what happens in and around you when you pay attention to and honor your intention? And how can you expand it? What are the “both ands” that you want to succeed with? How can you connect your intention to your learning and development?