Intentional Leaders Steer Where They Stare

Several years ago, I took a motorcycle safety class. During the course, the instructor made a statement that applies not only to successfully riding a bike but also to successfully leading. The instructor said, “When you get on the bike, remember this: you will steer where you stare.” The same is true for intentional leaders. What you focus on will either keep you and your team on course or take you and everyone you lead into potentially dangerous territory. As a leader, do you have an intentional mindset? It’s critical, let’s talk about why.

Intentional Leaders Steer Where They Stare

Recently, Ricky Kalmon interviewed me on his Amplify Your Mindset podcast. We had a fun conversation and he had some great questions on how an intentional leaders mindset affects success for individuals and organizations.

Ricky got right to the heart of it with his first question: “How do you manage a situation where a leader doesn’t think s/he needs to change?”

When Intentional Leaders are Lacking this Happens

This a common symptom in organizations lacking intentional leaders. Too often, leaders get comfortable with the way they think and act. They feel secure and just want to stay in their comfort zone. So anytime they are challenged to change, (think “lead more intentionally”) they typically pushback.

In my consulting and leadership training work with leaders who don’t want to change, I often pose this question. “Would you like to develop a particular leadership style, and maintain that for the balance of your career?” Usually most are heartily in favor of this.

Then I follow with a second question. “Have you seen your employees change?” The response is usually something like, “Well, of course. New generations — new mindsets — new employees — they are always changing.”

To which I reply, “That is the reason you must be willing to change as a leader.”

Most leaders who’ve gotten comfortable expect their people to adapt, adjust, and change to fit the leader’s style. But quite often people won’t. They will look for another path, transfer to a different department, even move to a different company, if necessary.

So I remind leaders that as long as their people are changing, they need to change as well. Leadership styles change because people change. I’m not suggesting leaders change their leadership philosophy to match some new theory. Rather, I’m suggesting leaders must intentionally adapt and change to ensure they are in step with the needs of their people.

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Intentional Leaders Have This Mindset

Hand in hand with the first question, is this: “How do you engage the ‘unengaged’?”

Unengaged people is another predictable by-product in groups lacking intentional leaders. So sometimes people in leadership roles just need help being better. I start by reminding leaders what leadership is really all about. In my view, leadership is a two-part process.

First, leadership is the ability to offer service — to employees, team members, customers, community, family. It isn’t about a formal position, title or seniority. Rather, you are a leader if you are in a position to help them somehow.

The second part of leadership is a willingness to take action on behalf of those you lead. That requires an intentional leadership mindset. Everyday. No two days will be alike because those you lead will have different needs. Everyday. The intentional leader wakes up not only fully focused on their ability to serve others but also fully committed to take action to help those they lead.

Keeping an Intentional Mindset

It’s always a good time to commit (or recommit) to leading intentionally. Reviewing our goals — reflecting on our purpose — redoubling our efforts. All these are great ways to refocus.

What are some ways you retain and reignite your leadership intent? Whatever your share will help all of us stay on course and out of dangerous territory — thanks for commenting below!

Create Your Intentional Mindset Now, Here’s THE Guide.

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Phillip Van Hooser
Author: Phillip Van Hooser
Phillip Van Hooser, CSP, CPAE is committed to helping organizations transform their business outcomes by building engaged employee relationships. He is an award-winning keynote speaker and author on leadership, service and communication. His popular book, “Willie's Way: 6 Secrets for Wooing, Wowing and Winning Customers and Their Loyalty” recently hit #1 in Customer Relations on the Kindle store. Connect with Phil on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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