Questions to Guide an Intentional Leader
Are you just an accidental or incidental leader? Neither is a good long-term leadership strategy. So if you’re looking to be more purposeful, here are 3 strategic questions to guide you to be an intentional leader.
Strategic Questions to Guide an Intentional Leader
I get this question asked of me quite a bit from people who aspire to be leaders, or people who aspire to be better leaders.
“So Phil, in your work with leaders, what advice would you give to me or to others like me who wish to be better in their leadership performance?”
My answer always begins with this — be intentional. Be an intentional leader. Being an intentional leader is different than being an accidental leader or even an incidental leader. Let me explain.
Are You an Accidental or Incidental Leader?
An accidental leader is that person who stumbles upon a circumstance and situation and is forced to respond. They may respond very well, but on the other hand, there was no intentionally behind it at all. It was completely accidental.
An incidental leader is someone who has a particular thing that they do well, a particular incident or circumstance that they’ve learned to manage well. It’s only incidental and it’s the only method they’ve mastered. Then when they experience other leadership problems or challenges, frankly, they try to solve the problem with the only, incidental solution that worked for them in the past.
Neither of those — accidental or incidental leadership — work well over time for the well-rounded leader.
Or Are You a Well-Rounded Leader?
The well-rounded leader, the one that has a long career and a successful run as a leader is the one who is an intentional leader. They know what they want; they know that they’re willing to commit to it; and they know that over time, they should be successful.
So let’s assume for a second, you take my advice, that the first step in the process is that you determine yourself to be an intentional leader. So then what?
Here are three strategic questions that I’d like you to consider as you begin your approach toward being an intentional leader.
1. What Do I Value?
The first question to answer is this: What professional values do I hold most important? I can’t answer that for you and you can’t answer it for me. If I answered it for you or you answered it for me then it wouldn’t be intentional from our own perspectives.
For me, honesty is at the top of the list. Integrity — doing the right thing because it’s the right this to do — is critical. For me, courage and being able to act courageously as a leader is important.
But that doesn’t mean those should be your values. For me to be intentional about leadership these values fit my cause very well. But the question is for you — what do you value intentionally?
2. What Do I Want to Accomplish as a Leader?
Once you create the list of what you value intentionally, then ask yourself the second question. “With these values in place, well-identified, what do I intentionally hope to accomplish as a leader? You know, there are different ways to lead. There are different circumstances and situations in which to practice leadership. For example, when I first got out of college, my intentionality as a leader was to be a manager — a leader in a manufacturing environment. On purpose, with intentionality, I got there.
But an interesting thing happened. After a few years of working in that capacity, learning and growing, I decided I want to accomplish more as a leader. And from that new value system and that new purposeful goal, I worked to create a leadership business — speaking, training, writing, consulting.
In other words, intentional leadership values and goals will likely give you room for more intentional growth and advancement. And as you achieve more, it’s important to continue asking yourself these questions.
So the first two questions: What do I value as a leader? What do I want to accomplish as a leader? And then the third question. And this is the most simple question and yet it might be the most complex to answer.
3. How Do I Want to be Intentionally Described as a Leader?
How do you want others to intentionally characterize you as a leader one day? Not today, not tomorrow, but one day. What do you want others to remember about your leadership?
In Stephen Covey’s ever-relevant book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, the reader is encouraged to begin with the end in mind. And I completely agree. If you can begin today — intentionally knowing your values, intentionally knowing what you want to accomplish, and intentionally know what you want others to say about you — then most of the decisions that you’ll need to make to get you where you want to be, have already been made.
So today, 1) think about your values, 2) think about what you want to accomplish, and 3) think about what you want others to say about you. The answers from these 3 strategic questions will get you started on the right foot toward being an intentional leader. And while you’re thinking about intentional leadership, here are 3 things an intentional leader doesn’t do.
Among my professional values, I include being helpful. I believe in offering assistance and information that helps other leaders be intentional about reaching their goals. With that in mind, here’s my virtual course on building leadership integrity, respect and trust. It’s just one way I can be true to my values and goals and help you achieve yours.
If there is any other way I can be of assistance to you, it would be my honor — please let me know how I can help.
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