William Craig, Forbes • Jan 22, 2019
Of all the workplace jargon you might have heard recently, intent-based leadership could be the most important. It means creating a work environment where people can become the best version of themselves. They do that in places where they feel valued and empowered, and where their employers care about keeping them motivated and productive. If you want to know how leaders can build this kind of workplace, here are some suggestions.
1. Become a Better Communicator
We know what you’re thinking: This is a tall order right off the bat. Becoming a world-class communicator can be a life-long endeavor, but it helps if you break down the problem into the types of communication you engage in throughout an average day.
The first kind is a “state of the company” type of communication. When employees fill out surveys about what they want in the workplace, one of the first things they usually call out is management’s lack of communication. That should make achieving transparency — including goals for the company, plans for the future and employee advancement criteria — a top priority.
Another kind of communication that has a direct bearing on the quality of your leadership — and the quality of your team’s output — is simply giving directions and framing your expectations. Your employees want to do their best work, the first time they make an attempt. They don’t want to ask for clarification later on, and you probably don’t want to have to give it. Give directions mindfully, the way you’d want to receive them, with a mind toward eliminating rework.
2. Inspire Long-Term Planning
It’s been said often and in many ways: Leaders must have a vision if anything’s to get done. Apart from simply putting one foot in front of the other, engaging in long-term planning with a clear vision is also a great way to achieve buy-in among your employees.
This can be a tough thing to actually engage in, much less communicate to your employees. We do know that the degree to which a leader presents a compelling and cohesive vision seems to correlate well with employee retention.
3. Make Your Love for What You Do Infectious
You don’t need a literal vision board to have a plan for your company. Once you’ve got that long-term plan, though, how do you make sure this new roadmap translates into actual results?
One way is to help your employees approach the same degree of enthusiasm for the work that you have. You got into business, presumably, to accomplish something apart from keeping yourself busy during work hours every day. Make sure your love for what you’re doing is undeniable and infectious.
4. Inspire Emotional Intelligence
A workplace is like a family in a couple of key ways. One way is “tone at the top.” As defined by Boise State University, tone at the top is what defines any management team’s “commitment toward openness, honesty, integrity, and ethical behavior.”
The heads of any household draw a series of lines in the sand for children and visitors. One of these lines describes how conflicts are settled. Another involves the way in which a leader responds to somebody else’s mistake.
Inspiring emotional intelligence, and cultivating a level-headed tone at the top of your organization, is paramount if you want to build a rapport with your employees based on intent. Nobody can do their best work amid a toxic workplace, or one in which leadership loses its cool at a minor setback.
5. Give Constructive and Honest Feedback
As a leader, one of your jobs is to help your employees help themselves. One way to do this is to give honest and constructive feedback.
You might’ve heard about the famous feedback sandwich, which has us saying one positive thing followed by a recommendation for improvement, and then another piece of positive feedback. What if this wasn’t a pattern to follow during a once-in-a-while employee review, but rather a rough blueprint for alternating types of feedback throughout the week and year?
Don’t be shy about awarding praise when it’s due. Also, don’t hold back if you see opportunities for improvement — just remember to deliver your recommendations the way you would to a friend or family member.
6. Never Stop Learning
If you got into your line of work because you enjoyed it, you probably don’t have to drum up an excuse to read about the industry or begin learning a new skill that will help you expand your capabilities.
If intent-based leadership is about helping people become their best selves and engage in their tasks with purpose and confidence, then instilling your employees with a love of learning is a big part of that.
7. Ensure Responsibility Is Clearly Defined
The division of labor and the balance of power is essential in any human enterprise. One way frustration and duplicated effort can creep into your processes is if the people who report to you aren’t clear on their roles. Remember that job titles don’t always perfectly describe actual daily responsibilities in the workplace. If members of your team aren’t sure who’s responsible for a critical piece of an upcoming project, it’s probably not their job titles that are in confusion — it’s process ownership and responsibility. These are a leader’s to designate.
8. Help Your Workplace Become Its Best and Healthiest Self
Just as morale can influence the health of a workplace, the inverse is also true. If your employees are in poor health or are running themselves ragged because their schedules are too uncompromising, it’s going to undermine their ability to turn in high-caliber work. That will make it harder to retain the talent you need, too.
Initiatives like on-site fitness programs, flexible start times and individualized career coaching can all help your employees balance their lives, achieve better health and take some of the stress out of pursuing advancement. The body and the mind are inextricably linked, and you want everyone reporting to you to be in the best condition they can be. Your employees will be grateful, and so will your bottom line.
William Craig is a Forbes Contributor. Article originally published here