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How to Embody Intentional Leadership


Morgan Peterson

Date Published

Jan 27, 2020
4 minute read

Leaders who operate “intentionally” act with purpose, forethought, and authenticity in service of achieving sustainable and equitable outcomes. These leaders recognize their attitudes and behaviors set the weather for their teams every day—their presence is their impact. For self-aware leaders, this is a powerful truth that can be harnessed to benefit the team. For the oblivious, the effects can be costly.

In this blog, we will explore intentional leadership through the lens of “authenticity” and how leaders can adopt three authentic ways of being. At The Clearing, we define authenticity as thoughts and actions rooted in a deep sense of self-awareness and courage. This creates honesty both to the self and others that requires vulnerability and an openness to give and receive feedback.

True authenticity creates psychological safety for teams; shown to improve engagement, morale, and performance. It also creates a space for continuous learning and improvement both for the leader and their teams.

Leaders can operate from a place of authenticity through three ways of being:

  1. Think: Make time for self-reflection
  2. Speak: Communicate how you are showing up in the moment
  3. Show: Act deliberately to cultivate the energy you want others to feel

Think. Intentionality in leadership begins with understanding the self. A self-aware leader recognizes their behaviors influence those of their teams. Those influences can have long term consequences—it is key for you to ensure you are showing up how you intended to. At the end of every day before you leave the office, take fifteen minutes to sit in a quiet spot and reflect on what you have done, whom you impacted, how you impacted them, and how you can change the interaction to better serve your team in the future. Record these reflections in a journal that you can reference at a later date.

Speak. After understanding how your behavior affects others, communicate your reflections with your team. Before a meeting or interaction, pause and ask yourself “How am I showing up today? How do I want to show up and add value today?” Once you develop a healthy dialogue with yourself—extend it to your teams. Choose to BE open and communicative. Create space in meetings for a conversation exchange, encourage individuals to share how they are showing up (noting positives and any areas for improvement), and compliment them for when they do so. If you rise above the circumstances, others will follow suit.

Show. After you set an intention for how you want to show up with your teams and openly communicate it, translate your intentions into action. Speak and act deliberately to promote the energy you want your team to feel. Look for ways to add value. If you want more honesty and transparency, begin by sharing how a recent challenge and how it affected you. Push the PERIMETER of the conversation to be the first to share a moment of moral courage. Remember your presence is your impact.

To be intentional as a leader is to operate with purpose and forethought. Carving the time out of a busy schedule to understand your story and identify how you want to show up with your team will cause a ripple effect and elevate the energy of your team to operate as a more cohesive and impactful cohort. Through self-reflection, communication, and deliberate action you as the leader will operate with integrity and your team will feel more connected to the work.

Share your story on you have approached your intentional leadership journey by sending me an email at: