Intentional leadership is the key to effective teams and avoiding the riptide of reactivity. Yesterday, I met with a senior leader of a business line who, like many leaders, is highly skilled in executing and operational excellence. The challenge he faces, however, is how to stop reacting and spend more time on the big picture, in order to create the foundation for the organization’s future.
Leaders in the reactive state of unintentional leadership may show up as moving blindly from meeting to meeting and merely surviving. Their energy levels deplete far quicker than they are being filled, and over time the unintentional leader stops showing up at his or her best. Therefore, we must be in the practice of intentional leadership each day.
If you find yourself being sucked toward unintentional leadership ask yourself: What is the highest and best use of my time? What am I uniquely positioned to do that is not getting done? What could I let go of that would allow me to shift my focus?
The horse requires the leader to be present and bring intention.
In my work, I’ve found that physical activity, especially something that gets you out of your routine, can be a powerful learning mechanism. Placing leaders and teams in situations that mimic the chaos they face yet doing so outside of the office helps create the capacity to change.
Horses require strong and trustworthy leadership. When I bring leaders to the horse farm, we engage in exercises that highlight the importance of HOW they lead and HOW they engage. The horse requires the leader to be fully present and bring intention. When either is missing, the horse will be sure to let the leader know. This process helps my clients surface new insights about how they are showing up – horses give immediate and unwavering feedback!
In one exercise, the leaders are asked to harness a horse. To be successful in this task, the leader must be both present and focused on the outcome without disconnecting from the horse which is about cultivating trust. Because we are so conditioned to “get through our day,” we are often predisposed to hurry through work in a way that creates a disconnect between ourselves and others. Being intentional requires composure, vision and connection. Connection with our full self, with those we must accomplish the work with, and with our final vision.
Today I invite you to bring intention to how you connect, envision and lead. What is your intention today? How will you choose to honor it?