The Power of Intent

The Power of Intent

Disruptive InnovationUnderstanding and communicating intent is rarely given much importance in business. Goals and vision are shared as carefully curated documents, or through great speeches created by well-oiled communications machines. CEOs forget that if the intent of these plans isn’t aligned with the communication, people may be impressed, but deep down inside, they will not believe in those plans or act on them.

The Power of IntentA fellow business leader complained the other day that although he had repeatedly sought feedback, his team had never told him what they really thought about his management style. We’ve been friends for a long time, so I asked: “Do you want feedback so you can do something with it? Or are you asking only because you think that’s the right thing to do?” The problem, I told him, is that people can perceive your intentions right away; it has nothing to do with what you say or do. There was a long pause, and then he admitted: “Deep inside, I’m probably not ready to hear critical feedback or do anything about it. My plate is full and my team knows that.” It’s critical to know your intent as a leader and to communicate it clearly. Let me recount an amazing ritual around intentions that a friend recently described. Apparently, in some parts of Africa, when a mother conceives, she writes a song for her child and sings it to the baby in her womb all through the pregnancy. When the child is born, the village comes together to sing the same song for the child.

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