Your Leadership Intentions


How to Realize Your Leadership Potential


Lesson Info

Your Leadership Intentions

We're gonna start with our first lesson, which is around your leadership intentions. So we've done some table setting to set up the course, and now I wanna get to understand, this course is named From Intention to Impact, right? And so we wanna understand your intentions. And part of what I've learned from working with leaders is that every one I've ever worked with has the best of intentions. However, what I've learned that for some, their impact can literally be 180 degrees from what they intend. So the first step in this process is understanding what are our intentions? And as you think about it, and I wanna set this up with one of my favorite quotes, which is "There are three things extremely hard, "a steel, a diamond" and what do you think the third thing is? "And to know one's self." Okay? To understand what is our purpose? What is our passion? What really motivates you and why? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Right and so it's really about being introspective ...

and understanding what really inspires you and what really drives you to understand what your intention is. And so if I ask you, right, and I think about intention, there's a big I and there's a little I. The big I is, you know, what do you want your overall impact to be? Right and as I ask you that question, you think about it, what kind of impact do I wanna have as a leader in my role? And so much of leadership, by the way, is contextual. And what I mean by that is you have to take yourself out of it sometimes, and say okay let's look at my job, let's look at my role, let's look at the organization, what does the company, what does the job need from me based on where this team is and the work that we're trying to achieve. Let me just take a step back and just ask myself, what does this job need from me? How do I need to be? What do I need to do? And how do I live out my intentions? And so when you think about your intentions, you know, maybe your intention from a broader perspective is maybe you're a servant leader at heart, right? So you're intention is to serve others. Maybe you've got a strong drive for love, results so you've got a heavy achievement focused. Maybe you love to coach and develop people and to see them grow. So I'll ask you this question, what are some of your intentions as you think about the role that you're in? What do you really care about? I really wanna meet people where they are, but then also inspire them to be the best that they are. I think everyone's in a different place in their life, and I want to be respectful of thinking of that first. Okay great, how about others? What's your intention? Yeah. I really wanna inspire and motivate, but sometimes it can be challenging just in the climate that we're in. 'Cause there's so much on our plate, right? [Woman In Audience] Right. Yeah and it's a great question. How do you want to inspire and encourage and motivate your team? It's a great question, right? How do we wanna do that? And so there's the big I to that, and we're gonna get into an exercise shortly to help uncover that for you. There's also a small I in intention that I found, and so much of leadership is how you manage the moment, and how you manage moments with other folks. And what I'm gonna do now is I wanna give you a couple of examples from my work to give you real life examples of what the big I and the little I looks like in the real world and in leadership. So from a big I perspective, I wanna tell you a story about Adam. So Adam is a senior leader at a large company that I had the opportunity to coach a number of years ago, highly successful leader. The executive team brought me in because this particular leader, they were worried about this leader having burn out and this person was also starting to lose some key talent on the team, k? So that's part of the context for Adam. As the executive team told me, this guy was hitting the numbers out of the park. And so as I sat down with Adam, one of my first questions to Adam was okay what's your intention as a leader? And in particular, and we're gonna talk about this in a moment, how do you want people feeling as a result of your leadership? So take the aggregate of your interactions with the team that you have, in general how do you want them to feel as a result of being led by you. And Adam's response was he wanted folks to feel valued and energized because it was a fast growing business, and he needed people to be all in to help grow this business. Here's where it gets really interesting, okay? So I have the opportunity as part of my executive coaching work, what I do is I'll interview 10 to 15, 17 people around the executive to get an understanding of their strengths, areas for improvement, maybe a key behavior that may be getting in their way. And so some of these can be in person, some of them can be on the phone. And what I learned from that experience, and with Adam, is we knew his intention, right? Which was about making people feel valued, right? And energized. And guess what I heard and learned from those around him. For the most part, you know how they felt? They felt used and exhausted. And this is an incredibly successful leader, and we're gonna talk about that in this course today around wow how can you make people feel that way and still get these results, okay? So we're gonna talk about that a little later. But in this case for Adam, his impact was 180 degrees from what he intended, okay? And he course corrected and was able to retain his staff and literally made huge changes to help him increase his impact even more. So I was totally proud of him. Now that's the big I. There's the small I, which is around your daily interactions as I mentioned. Around leadership in the moment. And I'll tell you about another leader and around how we can be 180 degrees off. So there was this gentleman from Italy that I got to work with, who became the GM of his business in Poland. And he was really excited about the opportunity, it was a step up for him. And the first day on the job, okay? He gathered all the employees at this business unit, and gave a speech about where he was gonna be taking the business and why, and how excited he was to work with them. And he went home that day, and you can see, by the way, when he was speaking to all the employees, they're nodding their heads, saying yeah, yeah, yeah. And he went home that day, talked to his wife, and his wife asked how was it? Oh it went fantastic. You know everyone's really excited, they're aligned on where we're going, and then he talked to his boss in London that night and he said we'll how'd it go today? Again fantastic, everyone was nodding, it was great. So this is a true story, okay? He goes to work the next day. Nobody is there but his assistant, okay? He looks at his assistant and says where is everybody? And she said well they all went on strike. They didn't like what you had to say yesterday. He said what are you talking about? And she was very polite and said to him look, you told them where you wanted them to go. You didn't ask them what they thought. They didn't like that. And so again, what he took that experience and learned from it, was able to enroll folks, actually ask them around where to take the business and it made a huge difference in his success. And so that's an example of leadership in the moment, and also the bigger I, our overall impact. So what I wanna do now to get at this idea of what your intention is, we're gonna do a great exercise. And what I want you to reflect on right now is the manager, coach, teacher who had the biggest impact on your success. I want you just close your eyes for a moment. So those of you in the online universe, close your eyes as well, okay? And I want you to visualize this person. And this is the person with the greatest impact on your success. And what I want you to think about now, is overall how did this person make you feel, okay? What's that word that comes to mind? And what did he or she specifically do to make you feel that way, okay? So I want you to think about that. What are some words that come to mind around we visualize this person, how do they make you feel? What words come to mind? [Woman In Audience] Valued. Valued. [Woman In Audience] Appreciated. I guess that's the same thing. By the way, I'm so sorry for my penmanship right now okay? In elementary school I always got needs improvement, and it never went up. Okay valued. Empowered. Inspired. Empowered, hold on. Empowered, I'll write slower. Inspired. [Woman In Audience] Capable. Capable. [Woman In Audience] Smart. Smart, awesome. What else? Anything else? [Woman In Audience] Successful. Successful. What else? Anything else come to mind? Okay now what is, this is the harder question, what did they do to make you feel this way? Yeah? So I had two managers actually at Kate Spade that were both really good, where they said at the end of my working day thank you for your day. And I thought that was really good because even thought let's say you made a mistake that day, you know, it was nice to know like oh, I'm valued, I'm appreciated for putting in the effort. And when they said thank you for your day, Your day. what I'm hearing you say is it was really sincere. [Woman In Audience] yeah like they meant it. One of the things as human beings that we're really good at, by the way, is detecting sincerity. We know if people are being sincere or not-cere. And even the simple language around thank you for your day, there's ways that you can say it where you know when someone really means it, right? And what I'm getting from you, is that person really meant it. Yeah. So they thanked you is what I'm hearing. Yeah. But it wasn't just thank you, it was like thank you for your day. It was just like, like for all your hard work. Okay what else? [Woman In Audience] They listened. Listened. [Woman In Audience] To your ideas and your insight. By the way, listening is one of the hardest skills in the world. I've actually taken a three day, I thought I was a good listener, and I took a three day class on listening, I know that sounds crazy, I did. And wow did I realize what it really takes to be a great listener. Okay, listened, what else? [Woman In Audience] They provide feedback. Yeah. And I would just add to that providing feedback that's in the moment, so timely and specific. 'Cause that was mine was provide feedback, but in that moment and it's specific on what you did that was either good or what needed to be improved. What you just said is so important, I was on a coaching call last night with a COO of a company. And for the first time in this person's life, they got a bad review. And they didn't find out about how they were doing until at the end of the year. And so I said to the COO, you need to give the CEO some feedback around there's no reason you should have found out about this in your performance review, and this person's devastated by the way. I was on the phone with him for an hour last night. And it has to be, in small doses over the course of the year so you can course correct, right? So that was very important, thank you. What else, yup? Similarly, when there is something going wrong that they are actually asking clarifying questions, and engaging with you rather than pointing a finger or assigning blame. So they're not judging you, right? Maybe they've got an open mind, what I'm hearing. Okay, great. [Woman In Audience] Trust. Trust you, right. What a great list. Okay what else? [Woman In Audience] Allowing you to fail in a safe environment. Allowing you to fail. Yeah. You know you're not gonna get beat up afterwards. Great. Asking for my opinion, how I would do something. Or how I would wanna do it. It's so novel, isn't it? To say, oh what do you think? Right, but it can be so hard for leaders who are so used to having all the answers. For leaders, 'cause they wanna move so fast, they wanna kinda blurt out the answer so they could keep going. What they realize it really hinders their success as a leader and we're gonna talk about that a little more as well. So this is a great list. So feeling valued, empowered, inspired, capable, smart. And so for you again, what a great list to think about what does great leadership look like? And it looks like making people feel and do some of these things as a leader. And so this is one of my favorite quotes. So we're talking about kinda the soft and squishy side of leadership. And Jim Kouzes The Leadership Challenge has this quote, and it's with Irwin Federman, who's the former president of Monolithic Memories. One of my favorite quotes of all time as well. So conventional wisdom, and this is what Irwin said, "Conventional wisdom has it that management "is not a popularity contest. "I contend, however, that all things being equal, "we will work harder and more effectively "for people we like. "And we will like them in direct proportion "to how they make us feel." Doesn't that just ring true for you? Doesn't that really ring true for you? So that's why when I talk about your intentions as a leader, to frame in terms of what's my overall intention? So you have to do some self-discovery there. You have to be so self-aware about how you manage each moment and each interaction that you have with the people that work with you. And so part of what I do in my coaching approach is as I mentioned, when I'm working with a leader, whether it be a CEO, or an executive, I'll ask them early on in the coaching process again, how do you want others to feel as a result of your leadership? When I'm doing all the 360 work, I'm doing all these interviews with, when you talk about a 360, by the way, let me define this real quick so everyone has a common understanding. So a 360 is when you think about people that work with you, for you, right? And also think about potentially customers as well. So these are people who are all receivers of your leadership. And so we wanna get a holistic view around your impact as a leader. And so what I do is I'll create this report based on all these things that I've learned about the leader, and we'll look at key themes and areas for improvement and right at the top of this report, by the way, I share this which is, I share with the leader, this is the question that I asked everyone as part of the 360 process, what is one word you would use to describe how Mary or Frank's overall leadership, the aggregate of their daily interactions, make you feel? And one way to think about this too, there's a kind of a primary way, but there's also other ways that folks can make you feel. It's not just one word typically, but what we try to do is how do we land really in summary around overall impact. Because you can make people feel different things at different times, right? And so here's an actual example from an executive I worked with. These are the words, let's go through this for a moment. This is what we learned about what the direct report said, around stressed, not valued, appreciated, valued, secure, safe, challenged, nervous, okay. Colleagues, comfortable, frustrated, exhausted valued, frustrated, annoyed, appreciated, okay? So let's just take a look at this for a moment, I want you to put on your coaching hat for a moment okay? How would you assess this person's impact? What comes to mind when you look at this? [Woman In Audience] They're tracking about 50% of the time and they're very inconsistent in their leadership style. Kay, so there's an inconsistency in their leadership style, they're tracking about 50%, okay. Great, and one observation too, is sometimes people can feel valued, right? And also challenged, and sometimes nervous, right? So you can kind of piece out if you would, you could divide out kinda the experiences that someone has with someone, they can feel kinda different ways, but again we're looking at the primary way. What other observations do you have when you look at this list? Maybe that they're treating different people different ways. So maybe some people like the way that they interact with it where somebody has a different style, and they're not understanding their style. Yeah absolutely and it goes both ways, right? So much again, I mentioned leadership is contextual, it's also situational, right? You've got people who work for you on your team, there's different levels of capabilities that they have. Motivation, right? Experiences. So you gotta kinda customize your leadership to those individuals, and by the way, not all these words are bad. One CEO that I worked with and I did this exercise with, nervous came up a few times. And we were going through this list and he said, yeah, I want some people to feel nervous. There's a reason for that. So again you have to look at the context, right? And so for this particular leader, it's saying okay here's the aggregate, and take a step back and think about the people that you're leading and almost custom-fit what you need to do for these individuals because my sense is in a year you want this to look a lot different, right? You don't want people feeling frustrated. You're not getting the best out of people if they're exhausted and frustrated. I think we can all agree to that, right? Okay. So let's take a little bit more and what I wanna end with this section on, is around this idea from Liz Wiseman around multipliers. And she wrote a great book called Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. And this connects to the leaders that we're talking about today, this list that we just created around. These people, right, that you described here, they were multiplier leaders, right? They got more intelligence and capability out of you. Okay and so what I wanna share with you is there's some real performance data behind this and what Liz discovered is that with the multipliers that out there, right, these people that we talked about on this list, they get about 95% of the capability from their team. The diminishers, okay? The diminishers. What we didn't talk about are some of the managers you've had in your life that maybe weren't the best managers you've ever had, and if I ask you right now how did those people make you feel, what words come to mind? If you think about maybe your not so favorite manager or teacher or coach, what word comes to mind for you when I ask you? [Woman In Audience] Inadequate. Inadequate. [Woman In Audience] Annoyed. Annoyed. [Woman In Audience] Stifled. Stifled. [Woman In Audience] Not valued, not valued not worthy. Yeah okay. It's not a word, but unengaged. Unengaged, okay. And when you think about that particular person and you think about when you went home that day, in general how would you feel when you'd open the door to your house after a day working for this person? Stressed, angry, and sad. Stressed, angry, and sad. Pretty much. Not good, what else? [Woman In Audience] Frustrated. Frustrated, yeah. Yeah so you know as a leader, if you think about it, in some ways it's so simple. If we make people feel incredibly valued, they feel 10 feet tall, and we make them feel like they're contributing, we challenge them, we're not just giving them easy busy work, but we're also thinking about them in terms of what's some challenging work that I can give them to help them grow? If we're able to do that as leaders, and they go home feeling really good about themselves, we're gonna get so much more capability out of them. Sometimes we just get in our own way.

Class Description

In this inspiring and practical course integrating real-world insight garnered from working with hundreds of leading executives and business Taavo will help you think and act your way to a greater impact at both work and at home. In particular, Taavo will cut straight through the leadership fluff and provide participants with simple and high impact actions they can implement immediately - enabling you to develop yourself and your team simultaneously.

At the end of the session, participants will be able to:

  • Align their intentions with their actions to increase leadership impact
  • Leverage a simple approach to increase team engagement and performance
  • Understand how to empower others to enable innovative outcomes
  • Improve leadership agility and adaptability


D'Ann Lapenias

I thought the class was very insightful and beneficial in helping each and every one of us discover and pinpoint our weaknesses. It was also helpful in making us reflect on what elements make up a good leader. Not only this, but it gave us tools to put the lessons into practice, not only in our workspace but also in our personal lives. Additionally, I hadn't realized how difficult it is to self assess your own strengths and weaknesses and the importance of asking others for feedback. Take this course!

D'Ann Lapenias

Taavo is incredibly inspiring and keeps it real. Everything that was discussed in the class is applicable at all levels of leadership. I enjoyed and learned alot!

Marina Lowy

Did not expect to find this so relevant, but it was great. BRAVO! So glad I dropped in to this on air session during my lunch break. : ) Love what he is saying about getting feedback!!!!! Wish more leaders would do this!