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By Dustin Clark | Mar. 06, 2017

Intentionality by Design – Perspective After Completing the Leader In Training Program

Each of us has our own definition of Leadership. How then can an organization like trueU teach us about leadership – if it’s a design unique to each individual?

The answer is, of course, plenty. As a recent graduate of trueU’s Leader in Training program, I have had occasion to reflect on what exactly leadership means to me – and in the process not only reflected on how much my definition of leadership has changed, but on how much dedicated training like LIT has to offer.

Before the program, if you had asked me what leadership meant, I would’ve given an answer akin to a combination of management and mentorship – providing training and direction to employees and helping others discover and unlock their potential.

Both of those, as it were, are still notable concepts, and both were covered during our Leader in Training courses. But the answer I have today is much different.

Today, if asked to summarize “Leadership” I would begin with one phrase: Leadership is Intentionality.

Leadership is Intentionality: What do I mean by that?

Throughout the course of Leader in Training – and in truth, through many of the courses trueU has to offer – the theme that bubbled up to the surface for me was intentionality. Success, by design. Management, by design. Coaching, by design. Mentoring, by design. You get the picture.

When I joined my current organization, Element Three, I knew I wanted to eventually get into management. I wanted to lead. But at that time, my definition was driven by title, was defined in an organizational structure, and had little to do with self-reflection, discovery and management.

I struggled to rise within the organization – that is, until I stopped trying to rise, and instead focused on being the best digital strategist, and best employee, that I could be. The result was that I stopped trying to be heard and impress, and started hearing and allowing myself to be impressed upon.

One person within my organization had said, “no one is listening because you have nothing interest to say.” I knew that to be untrue, but that left only one real direction for change – I must be saying my somethings wrong. And thus began the journey of self-awareness, discovery and realization.

For me, trueU was a catalyst for that continued self-actualization process – of listening, of learning, and as Stephen Covey might say, of Sharpening the Saw.

And as I learned, whether in a course of DISC profiles or one on 4S Strategic Planning, the theme became clear: the people who become great leaders do so by design. Deeply personal, self-reflective and self-sacrificing design.

This is not to say that I have it all figured out. Quite the contrary – I’ve got a lot of work to do. But there’s a roadmap to success that wasn’t there before. It’s both internal and external. And it will only be successful if it’s by design.

As I’ve accepted more and more responsibility with the organization, been assigned more employees to manage, and so on, the theme of intentionality has stuck with me. If I want to help someone grow, I have to be intentional – in listening to that person, in understanding the situation they are in, in helping them discover a goal and solutions to reach that goal.

So many of the techniques and principles we learned during LIT start with the idea of thought – of intentionally thinking through a situation, outlining an approach, practicing a principle, and planning the right way to “show up” in a room in tone and body language.

As a passion-driven, emotional guy, I know I’ll struggle to balance the good with the bad – but I have confidence and an approach that can help the intent of leading others – to unlock their potential and help them succeed – and put the individual before the result.

Leadership is being intentional. It’s doing things by design, for the betterment of the individual, whoever that person may be. It’s rooted in self so the self knows how to get out of the way and listen. Leadership is being intentional… by design.

And so I challenge you, dear reader – what will you accomplish by design today?