To lead ourselves with intentionality, takes tremendous self-management,the ability to pause, and think through potential ‘what ifs’ and resultant consequences. Cohesive, high performing teams are cognisant of this, and most importantly realise that each team member has a role to play in mobilising the others in the team to ensure that everyone stays focused, is mindful and leads with intentiality!
My personal mantra for 2021 is “Attitude is Freedom. Intentionality is Everything”. My mantra changes in the January of every year. This one has served me well for the first three months of this year.
Whether you are ‘leading yourself’ as a solopreneur or leading a team in a SME (Small Medium Enterprise), or many teams in a multinational business – leadership involves intentional work!
How we ‘show up’ as a Leader is triggered by many ‘moving parts’. The basis of how we show up is strongely correlated with the strengths of the personality style that they were born. I use the Enneagram Personality System to enable Leaders to understand themselves. (An article for another day – ‘Focusing on leading diverse teams of different Enneagram Personality Styles’).
Self-managing in a pandemic (given the uncertainty) is much easier said than done. Mental strain seems to be at an all time high! I can almost guarantee that as you read this article, you are reflecting on the ways in which you keep yourself ‘buoyant’ during these ‘waves’ of turbulent change. After all, leading with intentionality helps you to recognise the ways in which your attitude and behaviour ‘set the weather’ for your team, to ensure that they can ride the waves of change. As leaders we need to ensure that our team members don’t feel overwhelmed, out of their depth and / or ‘drowning’.
Without exaggerating, there are hundreds of great self-management techniques to improve your self-awareness, and hence your ability to lead with intentionality. I’ll share one technique, which is game-changing for myself and the Exco Leaders with whom I work. I call it the non-negotiable ‘book-end your day’ technique.
Most people’s ‘morning book-end’ is 99% controllable . That in itself starts your day on a good footing, as opposed to the whirling and swirling mayhem feeling of a ‘chaotic start’ to the day. The latter doesn't pave the way for a productive day.
Instead, try this easy to implement ‘morning ‘book-end’. Simply set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier than the time your family normally wakes up. Nobody can say this isn’t doable. Make sure that you go to sleep 15 mins ealrier, so that you get your (min) 7 hours of sleep per night! Think through what you want to ‘use these 15 mins’ for ? It should be to do something for yourself that is nourishing, fulfilling and feels ‘yummy’ and worthwhile.
By way of example, my day starts by me ambling to the kitchen (normally at 04h30 or 05h00) to make a cup of steaming hot, good coffee. This is then followed by an eleven minute meditation, sitting comfortably in my lounge.
It is always good to link your ‘chosen’ morning ritual to a specific ‘place’. Mine is linked to my favourite comfy spot in the lounge, where I feel warm, relaxed and (for most of the year) can see the sun rising – a brilliant way to start my day!
As a reminder : To ‘hard wire’ rituals, and reap the benefits, it is best to be consistent and do them 7 days per week! If I am travelling ... I seek out the right comfy ‘spot’ for the next morning ... before I go to bed.
My evening ‘book-end’ is my ‘full stop’ to the day. I guess that’s (on average) about 90% controllable for me, as my children are adults. For my ‘full stop’ at the end of my day, I choose to get into a hot, epsom salts bath- taking with me, my gripping / exciting novel. I am never ‘in-between’ books. I always have one or two books lined up. My bathroom is the place where I consciously and intentionally switch-off ‘from my day’. I allow myself to be absorbed in the drama of the novel (normally a true-story, histrory -related human drama) and I completely escape from the stressors of my day. By doing this, I can literally switch off from the ‘irritations’ in my day ... like switching off a light. In addition, the water running down the drain (at the end of my bath), is my psychological trigger to remember to say something that I am grateful for ... from that particular day. Whether it was good / bad feedback ; a specific key learning or even a small experience in the day. Another tip : add lavender oil to your bath. This is terrific neuroscience-backed calming trick. I do this daily too.