Do people know your intention?

I read once that trust is comprised of two elements – character and competence.  Knowing the character of an individual will certainly determine if they are trustworthy.  Do they act with integrity or kindness? Just as well, it’s imperative to know that the person has the competence, the ability, to get the job done.

That got me thinking about a third element that I don’t hear much about in leadership conversations.  How often do we focus on intention?

I really believe this is one of the most fundamental elements of leadership and a building block for trust and reputation and yet, how often do we intentionally focus on intention (see what I did there?)?

To be clear, I’m not speaking of being intentional in behavior or starting your day by setting your intentions – which are very important, by the way – rather, I’m speaking about your team, customers, or stakeholders knowing the true intention behind your actions.

Are your intentions externally focused on your team’s mission, goals, values, and growth opportunities? Or, are they internally driven for your gain? If people don’t know your intention, it leaves them to wonder and in those spaces of speculation, trust, reputation, and results can diminish because rarely are people thinking of positive intentions.  Oh, you say that sounds so negative, Mike! According to a Harvard Business Review study, 58% of employees would trust a stranger over their boss! Think that’s a problem with intention?

Jim Meehan, a British psychologist, once wrote that to gain trust with people you need to let them know two things:

I mean you no harm

I seek your greatest good

As leaders, isn’t that our true goal with building trust, which then will lead to results? Stop leaving your intention to question! It’s a waste of everyone’s time and energy – two resources we never have enough of!

So, how do you let people know your intention?

It starts with how you show up and engage based upon your values.  Are you values grounded in your personal belief? The team’s mission? The company’s vision? If you are living into these values on a consistent basis, then people will know your intention by what they see.  Complement your actions by also verbally telling your team your intentions – for them, for the project, for the client.

Transparency is a vital piece of trust and leadership.  If you are walking the walk, then being transparent won’t be an issue!

Give it some thought.  How do you ensure people know your intention?

To watch a video on this message, please visit my YouTube page here!