Discover a simple way to help your team see and feel the right things
Declare Your Intent
Help the team see and feel the right things.
“Followers choose to follow a leader with a compelling purpose, vision, cause, or goal, the unifying purpose. It is the leader’s unifying purpose that attracts the interest and loyalty of followers. The leader is someone who is able to communicate unifying purpose in a manner that is inspiring, persuasive, or motivating. The unifying purpose joins the followers to the leader.” ~ Jimmy Collins
When I started leading Lean (process improvement) teams, I was fired up and excited to improve the processes. I wanted to prove I could make a difference. I loved the challenge of improving processes. However, I no longer work in the area of process improvement. Today, my only focus is on developing the people, especially those people who lead other people through change.
As I got started, I quickly learned not everyone shares my enthusiasm about process improvement. Not everyone likes being in the spotlight. Not everyone likes working together as a team. Not everyone likes their job. Not everyone likes their boss. Not everyone likes me.
I learned what builds trust with one person may create distrust with another person. If you’ve never really thought about it, we trust those who are like us and who value what we value. Different people have different values.
The one thing everyone values is themselves.
As a result, the quickest way to build trust is to make the team members feel valued. You can do this immediately by declaring your intent…Declare you are leading, but you are also a team member. Declare you don’t want credit and will give them all the credit for the team’s success. Declare you want to help them help themselves by making things better not worse.
What does declare your intent mean? It means you tell the team what to look for, so they see the right thing in the right way. Tell them why you’re about to do or say something before you do or say it. By doing so, you are aligning their thinking with your intention. Otherwise, they will tell themselves a story about your behavior, words, actions, and intentions. Often, their story is not in alignment with reality.
Here’s an example of declaring intent. I often talk about past successes with other teams at the start of an event with a new team. I declare my intent before I start telling the related stories. I say something like, “I’m about to share some past successes with you. I’m doing this, so you can see I’ve had success in the past with teams just like you in similar situations. I’m not doing it to impress you, but to inspire you because you can achieve the same amazing results. I’ll also be sharing ideas I’ve learned from others to provoke new thoughts and new ideas you may not have considered.”
Declaring your intent means you ensure the team is telling themselves an accurate story.
There’s one thing you need to know: No one believes anything you say. They only believe what they tell themselves about what you say. You likely just did it to me and have been doing it since you began reading. We do it all the time consciously and subconsciously without really thinking about it.
If you tell yourself you agree, you believe me. If you tell yourself you disagree, you don’t believe me. However, your belief is based on the story you told yourself about what I said. It’s not actually based on what I said. You need to know this because this is what’s happening when you’re talking to members of the teams you lead.
When you’re leading a team, your words and actions must be aligned. If they are aligned, people will tell themselves a story that builds trust. If they are not aligned, people will tell themselves a story that creates distrust. I’m sure you already know they will also tell each other stories about you too.
Trust increases your influence. Distrust decreases your influence.
When it comes to intent, you are either manipulating or motivating. When your intent is to manipulate, it’s not about me. You benefit. I don’t. When your intent is to motivate, it’s all about we. Everyone benefits.
Declaring your intent provides a clear vision in advance about why you’re doing what you’re doing. In the end, people value and trust people who value and trust them.
“Leaders do not have to be the greatest visionaries themselves. The vision may come from anyone. The leaders do have to state the vision, however. Leaders also have to keep the vision before the people and remind them of the progress that is being made to achieve the vision. Otherwise, the people might assume that they are failing and give up.” ~ Ezra Earl Jones