How to Maximize Your Success by Aligning Behaviors with Intentions
You won’t get where you want to go until your behaviors consistently express your intentions.
If we could see your behaviors without your explanations, what would we think of you and your life-direction?
I’m asking a small group of selected leaders to evaluate my behaviors. I want them to let my behaviors explain where I’m going in life and leadership. For example, I might say I’m working on being positive. But, do my behaviors express my intention?
Their mission is to forget what I’m saying and “interpret me” by what I’m doing.
An essential element:
I mentioned this project to Bob Hancox, my coach from Tekara. He added this insight. “Not only will you learn about yourself, you’ll learn about their values.”
Bob’s comment reminded me that values-alignment determines the value of input and feedback. Listen intently to those with closely aligned values. There comes a point, however, when you can politely ignore input from people who don’t share your values.
Why this is important?
What you are doing speaks so loudly people can’t hear what you are saying. Maximum leadership-effectiveness demands clear alignment between intentions and behaviors. Live in ways that enable others to “get you”.
You interpret yourself by your intentions; everyone else interprets you by what you do. You don’t see you like others see you.
If you could not explain your intentions, how would others interpret you?
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This is such a great topic Dan. Quick story. I had some inside information that one of my clients was a man of “good intentions.” I asked the client, “How often when you say you will do something, do you follow through and do it?” His response was, “Almost all the time.” I challenged him to track for two weeks (at least mentally, and better yet to keep score) every time he was asked to do something and how often he did it within the time frame necessary.
He didn’t wait the two weeks. In 10 days he called me and said that I had earned far more than I was being paid! (Always a nice endorsement.) His “Almost all the time” he had to admit was less than 50%. He was shocked and more than a little dismayed. I asked him why this was a problem. While it appeared self-evident I wanted him to verbalize what he thought/felt. He told me that no one trusted him to actually do what he said he would do, at least not in any timely manner. That “crack” in his armor created issues in many relationships. Some people closest to him made allowances, but he knew that he was far less a leader, a husband, and father than what he could be.
I am happy to report that he has made some nice changes. I know that I need the review of “if my behaviors carried no explanations” from time to time. It’s sobering, but extremely helpful.
Jim, I think your advice is potentially so valuable that I’m going to start the exercise — log my commitments and see if I follow through and maybe how long it takes. Please don’t bill me, though. ; )
Wow Jim, that is a scary good story which may also be our own mirror…man if Dan isn’t holding up the mirror, Jim is!
No escape for the wicked… 😉
This value-action alignment construct was first introduced to me by the Franklin Day Planning System 24 years ago. In that course, they made you explore your governing values and ask, “Are my daily priorities consistent with these values?” This exercise was an eye-opener for me. It was then I realized that much of my stress began with the incongruence between values and daily goals. I found that I was being pulled of course by the urgencies of daily life, and lacked the discipline to get back on the road. Now, this article seems more focused on the emotional component of behavior, but the same exploration-reflection process can be effective at helping one promote goal-value alignment. One other hard-won lesson, if you are modifying your behavior, focus on expanding the desired behavior, versus trying to suppress the undesired behavior. Always expand the positive in your life – works much better.
Great point, James, about expanding the positive. Seems like it would not only be more fun to do, but would have a side effect of squeezing out undesirable behaviors anyway.
I too went through the values alignment process in pursuit of better time management. I’ve found that if I don’t revisit the process regularly, I start to get pushed off course by other currents in my life like people’s expectations, societal values or other things.
Adding this to my personal review at 6 months (bench makin) and then a year to determine if there is a difference in perception and intention. Great tool!!! Now if you only can help with 6 – 10 specific questions, life would be really great 🙂
Dan, I like this post a lot. I’m very intrigued by your project and by the question you pose — I hope you’ll report more on this later on.
An experiment I tried once was suggested to me by a very experienced leader. He said, “Instead of walking your talk, try talking your walk.” He challenged me for a week to describe my actions, what I actually did, instead of what I meant. It was eye-opening. Key point in this exercise: describe only what’s visible. Thoughts aren’t, so they don’t count.
Thats a great challenge! I’m going to watch myself today and do some describing.
Thanks for adding so much to the community! I always look for your insights and comments and find them helpful. I was on the phone with someone a couple days ago who mentioned how much they enjoyed your input here.
Thank you. One of the amazing things you’ve done here on Leadership Freak is created a real sense of community, I love the dialogue that happens here every day.
Keep up the great work
Interesting concept Greg, “talking your walk” and the exercise of course of describing only the visible actions, a prompt perhaps to be a lot more transparent with our thoughts and intentions. I will most definitely try this “kabuki.” and see the outcome. Thanks Dan for a most thought provoking post. Y’all have a great weekend.
An interesting post to critically know where you stand in your aspirations and goals. The basic help can come by someone who is your well wisher, ideally the coach or mentor, to give you the right feedback based on your actions by closely watching you.
‘Value alignment’ is a good concept and can be imbibed in our daily actions. I liked your suggestion of avoiding the feedback of those who do not follow values. The best thing will be to avoid such a company and concentrate on your inner conscious with good habits.
Spiritual Gurus and teachers even after many years of graduation, at times awaken you and your soul to continue doing good things [value-based actions] to shape your own destiny and help the society in general.
One of the most valuable, succinct and scorchingly true pieces of coaching I’ve ever gotten! There is far more than just one gold nugget here, and I’m going to read and re-read this one until it becomes who I am, not only when I’m alone and no one’s looking, but also when EVERYONE’s looking.
However, I believe we should consider both the difference between intention and behaviour as well as peception and behaviour.
That’s a big one! Perception sometimes has a life of its own.
Percolating posts again Dan…got me thinking how we sometimes perceive that our values/intentions are somewhat static and of course our behaviors aligned with our values…oops. Not so much on both accounts. They do keep evolving as learn…hopefully.
If it is the case that any given interaction can be misaligned with values, that speaks to how powerful any interactional moment can be.
Really great post, lots to consider!