The Importance of Intentional Leadership

Great leaders are empathetic. They intuitively model the behaviors of leadership that attract and retain loyal, highly-motivated followers. When it comes to leadership, few of us naturally have it, most of us must be more disciplined in our approach.

Sure we can read leadership books. We can bury ourselves under piles of books by Tom Peters, Sheryl Sandberg, Ken Blanchard, Seth Godin, Daniel Pink, Simon Sinek, Doctor Suess (Really! Oh the Places You’ll Go) and many more (just please don’t read any Tony Robbins). All these books speak to our human minds. They are replete with logical frameworks, high falutin language, and abstracts concepts.

The problem with that is humans, as in the majority of you who are reading this are not logical. Neuroscience research tells us that the part of the human brain that decides to play follow the leader or to step out of line has no capacity for language, abstract thought or logic. It is hard-wired to avoid risk at the expense of gain. This part of the brain that is the ultimate deciderer in the brain is the same part of the brain we share with alligators… the so-called reptilian brain.

Intentional Leadership takes into account that actions speak louder than words. That when it comes to leadership, your followers are always subconsciously looking for signals that scream this person does not have the capacity to keep me safe. When you’re a leader, your followers are constantly scanning for danger and the ancient primitive part of their brains are constantly asking,

“Is it safe here?”

“Does she have my back?”

“Is he taking me where I want to go?”

“Is this a good time to go to the bathroom?” Whoops, sorry, that was what my subconsious brain was just asking.

Humans pick up danger signals before they can actually explain to themselves in logical terms what that danger is. It’s like when you’re driving, looking ahead and in your peripheral vision, you see something moving into your lane. You know there’s danger and you become hyper-alert and ready for action.  It’s like when you see something that looks like a snake and jump out of the way before your more logical brain, the human brain works out that it is was only a garden hose.

Intentional leadership as defined by me, and since this is my blog I am the final arbiter of who gets to define any term,  is being very intentional to define the factors that draw your followers to you and your mission. It is not leaving those factors to intuition, random actions or chance. It is clearly defining the factors and developing a discipline to ensure you don’t have your followers seeing snake when you are a harmless, beneficial, life-giving garden hose.

Which reminds me of this video that kids turned me onto about 10 years ago:


Want to learn more about Intentional Leadership? Here’s a 40-minute video. Want to work on becoming a better leader? Let’s talk leadership in a one-on-one, complimentary, one-hour, online coaching session. You can schedule it right now by pressing that little red button down there.