In our leadership program, The DNA of Success we have identified 11 key behavioral traits that connect directly to leadership success. We call these leadership DNA markers. Our Journal Entry for this edition is a focus on INTENT.
TO HAVE IN MIND A PURPOSE
Great leaders have a strong sense of INTENT in their approach to their responsibilities and future direction. Intent is about a direct mindset of aim and plan. It centers on discipline. Discipline in a world full of distractions.
There are over 4 billion business email accounts in the world, sending out almost 1.9 billion emails a day, making this electronic form of communication the most pervasive form of information exchange in history. How’s that for a distraction? The universe is filled with distractions that draw us away from INTENT. Our daily lives create collisions with commotions, disturbances, interferences and disruptions. , each fighting for our intention, each appearing to be in need of our attention. Throw just a few of these amidst, conference calls, meetings and our regular work and it doesn’t take long to see how critical INTENT is our leadership skill package. Strong leaders focus on the intent of outcome and make things happen.
THE PIXAR MINDSET OF INTENT
Randy Nelson is the dean of Pixar University and an expert on INTENT. Here is just one example – The hiring process. It is easy to get carried away with the excitement of hiring new team members, but the right match of talent to position is the INTENT and at Pixar they don’t shy away from intent. They follow this formula – EVERY TIME (discipline):
- They look for those who have failed and recovered. They believe this is the # 1 element in innovation.
- They want someone who has mastered something, anything. If you can master one thing, your ability to master something else increases.
- They want BIG knowledge as defined by a broad breath of experience and understanding.
- We want great communicators who can translate the various ideas leading to intended outcome.
That’s it. , a simple, intentful and disciplined approach of a company that looks for leadership as an everyday skill set.
THE TRUE AIM
Have you ever watched an improvisational act? It appears that chaos is reigning supreme as the group bounces around from idea to idea. But improve is a process, not a thing. It has intent at its core. Though improvisation relies on a sense of creative freedom (think jazz) it follows rules that are designed for the INTENDED outcome. Here are the two core rules of story improve:
- Say “yes”. Motion is critical to success and accepting every offer moves an idea forward. No, stops an idea dead in its tracks.
- Make your partner look good. The idea is that even in conflict YOU do everything you can to make your partner successful
Improvement is about INTENT.
Even the uniquely American form of music, jazz, which is full of improvisational riffs, follows the idea of intent with a few rules (though jazz musicians would say they were “guidelines”).
- When all else fails, play your improvisation to the melody.
- 1 idea per chorus is enough.
- Get underneath the soloist in the mix when playing a supporting role.
Here is a great example of Rule # 1 played to The Girl From Ipanema. The soloist becomes a momentary leader with intent.
Even jazz is about INTENT.
WANT SOME INTENT IDEAS?
- Email – Try this one to two days a week – Don’t open any email until 12 noon. That’s right, no email until noon. I know, your Pavlovian response to the ping of your computer calling will drive you crazy, but one to two days a week you can focus on the intent of your work and lead from a simple behavior that will provide you aim to your target.
- Plan – Don’t be completely arbitrary in your pursuit of daily activities. Understand the desired outcome of your actions. If you have trouble defining your intent, perhaps you don’t need to be involved in that activity.
- Wildly Important – Try this, take a look at all of your “to do” list and create just ONE category – Wildly Important. Don’t cheat. Not everything is wildly important. Place no more than three items in the new wildly important column and don’t take a call, don’t open email, don’t get a donut, don’t do anything until the 1 -3 wildly important items are done. That’s INTENT.