For this entry in my leadership blog series, I’d like to talk about intentional leadership and begin by asking:
- Do you ever feel like you’re on autopilot? You’re not even having to think about what you’re doing – you’re just doing it! Driving, filling out reports, attending recurring meetings, etc.
- Do you have those days when you are so busy that you don’t even have time to take a breath? When you get home, you can’t think of a single thing you feel you accomplished.
Yes, life is busy. In addition to your job, you may have kids, pets, and a myriad of other responsibilities on your plate. The book The 4 Disciplines of Execution discusses the challenge we face with the whirlwind stealing our time away from important initiatives.
Examples of the whirlwind are responding to emails, answering phone calls, putting out customer fires, and filling out forms. Whirlwind activities put you on autopilot. At the end of the day, you feel you didn’t accomplish what you set out to do.
When we run on autopilot with our customers or prospects, we run a serious risk. Do you know what that risk is? It’s being average, being predictable, fitting the stereotype, and meeting but not exceeding expectations.
We Can Fight Autopilot
Did you know that you already have a secret weapon to fight autopilot? It’s something that can take your company from forgettable to exceptional and something that, when put into words, sounds simple. But doing it can be hard, and that is why most don’t. Get ready for it: The secret weapon against being on autopilot is…
What do I mean by being intentional? A good example is something we did in recent years at one of our portfolio companies.
We had seen perfectly good prospects fall off one after another, so we paused and evaluated our outreach messages and looked for weaknesses. We found our interactions were average on all accounts.
Some of the things we saw:
- No research on the prospect.
- No research on their company
- Messages spewing the greatness of our company and our assigned salesperson – but nothing about the prospect
It’s no wonder we weren’t getting responses! That is why the sales team instituted what we called triggers in our prospecting messages.
You can be one of the millions of sales boilerplate messages sent every day that get deleted, or you can be a trigger expert and get responses that everyone envies.
Our team looks for what will trigger a response from a prospect or client. These triggers can be:
- News articles we find about the person or their company
- Relationships that tie us together personally or professionally
- Do we use their company’s products?
- Do we currently serve a company that they know or work with?
And the list continues. In the end, the recipient will see something in the email that relates to them that will trigger them to respond.
Intentional Leadership is All About ‘Extra Credit’
Triggers are just one example of an intentional activity that can help take us off autopilot. Being intentional is about exercising our discipline a step further than where most would stop. Think about your school days when you were offered extra credit.
- Why was it extra credit?
- Was it because your teachers knew what you would deliver on autopilot?
- Did they want to see what you could deliver when your autopilot was turned off and the discipline to be intentional was engaged?
Lo and behold, when you intentionally delivered extra, you were commensurately rewarded for it. This fundamental of intentional leadership holds true wherever you apply it to your life.
If we can build up our mental stamina and train our minds to challenge ourselves in our day-to-day activities to get off autopilot, then we are on the road to truly being intentional. We are on the road to differentiating ourselves through intentional communications, project management, services, and solutions. While often small in scale, our intentional actions can have a significant impact, and when compounded across everyone, over time, they can create an intentional culture that makes a company a force to be reckoned with.
What Intentional Leadership Means for Team Members
When it comes to communications, meetings, work product, etc., my team members may find me pushing them to be more intentional to:
- Take it a step further
- Provide additional value that isn’t expected
- Provide additional clarity that isn’t expected
My desire to push my team members comes from a positive place, which is a serve-first mindset. The comments and recommendations I have given are meant to be supportive of their growth from a perspective of how to look at and approach things. My expectations for being intentional are high. These expectations are not communicated through judgment but rather through collaboration with them to figure out what is best for our teams and our company.
At Imperial, being intentional keeps us engaged and relevant, and it supports our core values, which include exceeding expectations. Please contact us to discuss your clinical research study. We will help overcome issues you are experiencing and quite possibly assist in areas you didn’t expect.