Do you sometimes act without thinking about consequences? Do you sometimes simply say out loud what comes to your mind without measuring the potential impact of your words? Do your words and actions sometimes lack alignment? What could possibly change if you added intentionality to your words and actions?
What is intentionality? It is to have clarity about what you wish to accomplish before actually taking action. It is to know the profound intention behind your words and doings. It is to talk and interact with others in a way that is aligned with your deep intention.
To illustrate my point, here is an example. One of your colleagues—let’s name him Paul—regularly comes to you to talk about his problems working with Julie, another colleague. You decide that it would be important to get them together in a room in order for them to discuss to work things out.
What could be your profound intention regarding this action? If it is to create space for Paul to express his frustrations to Julie, what would this conversation sound like?
You could take them in a room and tell Paul drily: “Come on Paul, Julie is in front of you; tell her what you have to say.” And then, let them talk. This example may seem silly, but your words and actions are in line with your intention, aren’t they? How would Paul feel in this specific situation? What about Julie? What could their conversation be like?
Let’s change the intention and explore what could be different. Let’s suppose that your intention is to support Paul and Julie during their conversation in order to help them resolve their problem. If you would have to align your words and actions with this new intention, what would this conversation be like?
The three of you would probably meet together, probably in the same room. The beginning of the conversation could be something like: “Paul and Julie, I’ve noticed that there is some tension between the two of you lately. So, I thought that it would be interesting to discuss about it together and find a way to handle the situation.”
Your words are different and aligned with the new intention. How would Paul feel within this context? How would Julie feel? Would the dynamics during the conversation be potentially different?
As leaders, when we are leading groups, it is important that our words, gestures, actions and intentions be aligned. On the long run, this contributes to giving points of reference to the people we are leading. Our intentions, as leaders, must constantly be aligned with the vision we regularly communicate to the team.
It is important to take a moment to think about how the actions or messages we wish to communicate to our group are aligned with the intentions we already declared to them. Since we are their leaders, we start creating disillusionment or losing our credibility when we regularly lack alignment.
When we bring more intentionality to our conversations and actions, it can also create something very powerful around us. When those with whom we are interacting know our deep intentions, the discussion environment is then more permissive regarding what can be said. For instance, a coach who is working with a client in his workplace is often allowed to give feedback that would not be welcome if it came from a colleague with a potentially different intention.
Intentionality appears when we start making conscious choices regarding the words we’re using and actions we’re taking in order to give direction, support others, or reach a goal. Developing our intentionality begins with questioning ourselves more regularly about what we wish to accomplish and how our actions and words will be aligned with this intention.
To what extent are you living intentionally? Are your words and actions regularly aligned with your intentions? What would be different in your life if you brought more intentionality to it?