How Living Intentionally Can Improve Your Effectiveness

It’s easy to get caught up in the busy pace of life and forget about what’s truly important. The current crisis we’re in has likely added complexity and stress to your already full plate, but don’t forget to think about who you want to show up as every day.

“We have choices. We can live and lead with intention, we can ask, we can decide,” says CCL’s Laura Santana, a senior leadership solutions partner.

“But all too often, we just default to the status quo.”

Living with intention is important for both work and home life. As we all know, our personal and professional lives often overlap – and that’s true now more than ever before.

Increase Your Effectiveness by Living with Intention in These 3 Ways

Infographic: How to Live with Intention

1. Gain self-clarity by identifying your values.

Living with intention first requires that we understand ourselves and what we value most so that we become aware when we fall out of integrity. Values are personal, deeply held principles or ideas that guide our thoughts and actions and define who we are at our core.

Take some time to reflect on what you value most and develop your own set of personal core values. Some examples include honesty, justice, efficiency, innovation, happiness, etc. (CCL uses the Values Explorer cards in many of our programs to help participants understand values at both the individual and organizational level.)

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We recommend writing down your list of values and keeping it somewhere you can see and be reminded of regularly. It’s also a good idea to share your values with people in your life you interact with the most – your boss, direct team members, your family, and those you share a home with.

Remember, we tend to judge ourselves by our intentions, while others judge us by our behaviors. Living with intention is about doing our best to make sure our behaviors are in line with what we value. Completing this exercise is a good way to achieve that goal – both at work and at home.

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2. Act with agency.

We are active players in our lives. Instead of standing back and letting life “happen” to us, we can practice living with intention by choosing how to spend our time and invest our energy.

Agency is about taking control of your present and future, knowing that in any given moment you’re shaping your job, your leadership style, and your life. It begins with identifying a desired goal and then actively pursuing the experience, behaviors, skills, or relationships that will put you in a position to achieve that goal.

Determine what your ideal self looks like at home and at work, and from there, identify the actions and behaviors you must take in order to show up as that ideal version of yourself. Make a commitment to small shifts that add up to big changes. You’ll see that as you repeat these shifts, they’ll quickly become habits, which then turn into your daily reality.

For example, if you have a personal goal to eat healthier at home, make the intention to spend time on Sunday prepping some meals for the week ahead. If you have a professional goal of improving time management, make the intention to write out and prioritize your to-do list for the next day before closing down your work in the evening.

Living with intention is also important for establishing your desired leadership brand. “Your leadership brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room,” explains Katherine Pappa, another senior faculty member. “What do you want that to be? What do you need to do to create it?”

3. Optimize your partnerships.

Healthy, productive relationships are critical both at home and at work. And just like our goals, they don’t just appear out of thin air. Healthy relationships take intentional action and commitment to build and maintain.

Optimize your partnerships by understanding yourself, and collaborating with the people in your life in a way that complements your own strengths and challenge areas.

During the current COVID-19 crisis, you may find yourself needing to collaborate in new ways with family members. Spending so much time together in tight quarters with new responsibilities can be stressful, but instead of becoming overwhelmed or acting out of line with your intentions, try dividing new tasks by natural strengths and availability.

For example, if one member of your household is currently out of work, they may become the designated grocery shopper, even if that wasn’t their normal responsibility in the past.

When it comes to work, the right professional relationships and ties are known to be an asset in getting access to information, earning promotions, and gaining opportunities. Effective leaders rely on key networks and trusted partners to get results.

During this time of crisis and remote work, it’s critical to keep open lines of communication. Work to understand which communication channels are best for your team members and don’t overlook the opportunity to collaborate and network while in pursuit of achieving your organization’s shared goals.

“Ultimately, it’s about developing leadership capability in service of a chosen goal, rather than one that just happens to be there — and in ways that will have the most impact,” says Pappa.

“There is great power in the choosing, in leading with more intentionality,” adds Santana.

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Ready to Take the Next Step?

Help your people connect their personal values to your organizational goals with Live Online Custom Leadership Training tailored to your organization’s unique needs. Available topics include Building Organizational Resilience, the Resilience Advantage, and more.

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