I must admit, I never really pondered this question. Until last week, when I came across an article entitled A Fake Crisis, Leadership and You. The article presents the boss who always develops a sudden crisis late in the afternoon that keeps you working into the night. It goes on to talk about the characteristics of such a leader and contrasts them with the characteristics of a great leader.
The article finishes with asking what kind of leader you are. It makes the telling point that "we generally judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behaviors." I suddenly realized that I have probably been guilty of this duality myself. We have the obvious ability to get feedback on our behaviors vs. our intentions as leaders through employee surveys that ask questions about supervisors and leaders. But, do we ask the right questions and do we analyze the results? Furthermore, isn't this duality true for all employees?
I soon realized this is a global truism, not just a truism for leaders. We all are leaders at some level and all colleagues to many in our organization. And we all probably judge ourselves by our intentions and our colleagues by their behaviors. Furthermore, we all have the ability to get 360 degree feedback (formal or informal) that we can use to evaluate how well we perform relative to our intentions.
This all led me to try to define my leadership intentions. I challenged myself to limit my intentions to a maximum of a half dozen well-chosen words or short phrases. So for those who are curious, here they are (in alphabetical order) with a description of what each intention/value means to me:
That's my list. What is yours? If you want some ideas to spark your thinking, try looking at the Baldrige-based leadership behaviors and attributes.
And in keeping with actual behaviors vs. intentions, I am open to feedback!