Intent-based leadership creates an environment for people to contribute so they feel valued and encouraged to reach their potential. Intent-based leadership is about designing an environment where people give intent to each other and they feel valued and proud of their work. It helps give understanding into how they fit into the whole organization and its objectives. It helps them feel inspired, motivated, and take responsibility for their actions. Intent-based leadership is about giving control and the decision-making power to people who maintain the information. 

How can you make people feel empowered with intent-based leadership? This list from David Marquet a former U.S. submarine commander with the U.S. Navy  and author of the book Turn the Ship Around shows you how. 

1. Your words make a big impact

Employing the phrase "I intend to" shifts ownership from leaders to followers. 

2. Talk about intent 

In order for people to feel empowered, spend time talking and listening about they want to accomplish. It can be tempting for leaders to set the vision without ensuring that members have already bought into the future of the organization. 

3. Be tolerant of differing approaches 

Having shared intent is important but there are many ways to solve the issues in front of you. Don't be authoritative about methods. Tolerance is key. 

4. Help people devise their own solutions

When a member comes to you with an issue and lacking a solution, be tolerant in helping them find one. They should feel empowered by your leadership and trust in you to arrive at one on their own. However, be patient enough to lead the way in finding one. 

5. Make it a safe place to think

By doing so, they will feel safe and empowered to arrive at their own creative solutions and ideas.

6. Clarify language to minimize chaos

Giving freedom may create a few issues, however, it is best to talk about them. 

7. Define roles and processes.

A lack of clear, defined roles, authority, and processes creates chaos. The structure that follows the conversations, collaboration, and buy-in permits freedom. 

8. Coercion does not work

The short-term wins that can come through coercion is not worth it. The long-term gains can be won by making people feel empowered with intent-based leadership.

9. Employ a culture of transparency, open feedback, and sharing

Be clear, invite criticism, be open, and members will be apt to share. 

10. Ensure that people feel part of a collective we

When members use "they" and not "we" there is a lack of sense of empowerment. A common culture can change this. 

11. Never sacrifice short-term success for long-term wins

Investing is long-term success is difficult and there will be temporary setbacks but in the end it is worth it. 

Through these steps of employing intent-based leadership, you will have a team that feels more empowered, inspired, and motivated. That is a good thing for any business. 

Published on: Feb 22, 2016
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