The Intentional Leader

Many people do not live intentional lives.  This means that people don’t have a focus. Are you stuck in the rut where you do through the motion’s day and in day out?  Do you wish you could get that promotion or new job but lack the motivation to go after it?

I think of being in a boat in the middle of the lake with no oars or Rutter. No matter what you do, you just spin in circles. To lead an intentional life, you need direction and purpose. The oars and the Rutter are the tools we use to move us forward to reach the destination.

We all work in environments where we get many interruptions and distractions. It is difficult to be an intentional leader when minor disturbances constantly call your attention away from accomplishing your major tasks. Being pressed for time and our own bad habits can hold us back.

What does it mean to be an intentional leader?  It is not necessarily being assertive or decisive, it is acting with directness towards a goal that has purpose and meaning.

Intentional leaders have a clear plan and every team member knows the WHY and understands the plan. An intentional leader acts rather than reacts. They make purposeful decisions, use clear language, and actions to reach their goals.

I have not met anyone who does not have a busy job and does not have to deal with interruptions. Do you leave work at the end of the day and wonder what you accomplished? Part of being an intentional leader is having clear goals and an organized plan of execution.  I get it I have been there.  I have had jobs where I was constantly being pulled away from my tasks to assist others. As a manager, you not only have your own duties but you also have to be there for those you supervise.

Being organized is essential to be an intentional leader. One of the things that helped me balance the demands was to schedule two times a day to respond to emails. I also found that when I was under a tight deadline that closing my office door for a short time worked well to minimize the interruptions.  Intentional leaders communicate, they are transparent and inform their team.  In order to accelerate your success, you need to slow down deliberately to gain clarity and see what is the best use of your time and talents.

Steps of Intentional Leaders:

Seek self-improvement daily

  • There really is no competition with other people but to get better every day and to get closer to your ideals and goals.
  • Seek ways for continuous learning. Learning is joyous and brings knowledge. With great knowledge and practice, we build skills and gain perspective and greater understanding.

Be Open

  • Be open to other ideas, other perspectives, and other people.
  • Be flexible.
  • As a leader, have regular checkups with your team to see how things are going and why.

Mind the Gap

  • Life is not pixel perfect. Social media has created a false reality. We need to be mindful of the gap between who we are and what we want to be.
  • The most contented people are those who work towards narrowing the gap. They accept that life is incomplete and imperfect, they are authentic, trustworthy, and happy within themselves. They are vulnerable, empathetic, and constantly growing, making mistakes as they go and seeking to improve from those experiences.


  • Be responsible for your performance. You have the power to improve your performance. This also includes permitting yourself to relax.
  • When teams are accountable, they are able to respond to changing market conditions in a way that sets them up for long-term success.
  • Every meeting should close with deadlines, owners, and accountability.
  • Create opportunities for accountability to happen. The best way to go about promoting accountability is by creating operations pauses for conversation – a chance to debrief and to discuss issues.

Intentional people are self-motivated and create their own momentum instead of waiting for things to happen they make things happen. Intentional leaders, notice things and people around them. They choose wisely the problems and address them and then they act.

By Cheryl Viola, Executive Director, MBA


Bates, S. (2017, April 3). Great leadership style: The power of intentionality. Retrieved from

Freeman, L. (February 1). Leadership basics 1: What is intentional leadership? Retrieved from

Morgan, A., Lynch, C., & Lynch, S. (2018). Spark: How to lead yourself and others to greater success. Mariner Books.