Did You Know that Good Intentions can Defeat You

Bocelli sings like an angel, but he was wrong when he said, “All that counts in life is intention.”

“The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention.” Anonymous

Baby Shoes

The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention.


Intending is a necessary beginning.

The path to achieving leadership development goals begins with “goal-intention.” Only the most pathetic leaders don’t intend to improve their leadership.

Goal-intentions require a how, when, and where. Gollwizer and Brandstatter label it, “implementation intention.”

An implementation intention includes a situational context.

  1. When I sit down at my desk in the morning, before I check email, I’ll record a point of gratitude in my journal.
  2. The first thing I will do when I see Bob this morning is inquire about his overdue project.
  3. When I feel frustrated I’ll ask myself, “What do you want to do about that?”

Deadly good intentions:

Good intentions become deadly when they have children. You decide, for example, to work on delegating, communication, and giving feedback at the same time.

Goal-directed action works best when focused on one goal.

Dalton and Spiller’s research indicates that people who work on multiple goals at the same time find reasons to not follow-through.

Suppose you want to improve delegating, giving feedback, and addressing tough issues. Focus on the most relevant goal. Address the others later.

Multiple goals:

If you must work on multiple development goals at the same time, find a way to connect them. For example, giving feedback and addressing tough issues seem connected.


  1. Clearly defined goals are easier to implement, but broad goals are better than no goals.
  2. Keep implementation intentions simple even for challenging goals.
  3. Commit to rest. Fatigue diminishes the likelihood of success.
  4. Quick success produces false confidence. Don’t declare victory too soon. It takes between 18 and 254 days to form a habit. (Lally, et al)

What blocks leaders from developing their leadership skills?

What has made leadership development work for you?