Do You Have A Leader’s Intentions?

When a leader provides his/her team with a compelling vision, goal, and purpose, their team will become followers.

A highly effective leader will live the vision, goal, and purpose every day from the front and set the example. Once the example is set, the followers will follow in exactly the same way through the leader’s inspiration and motivation. This is what aligns the leader and the team.

When I was told that I would be moving into my first leadership position as engineering production manager, I was so excited. I felt that I was on the next step of climbing the ladder. I was excited to see what difference I could make in engineering.

1. Who Do You Put First As A Leader?

I was excited to make our trains better. I was excited to impress the senior leaders. It was all me, me, me, and what I could do to make things better.

I didn’t think about what I could do to help others become better. I didn’t understand that my new role was not about engineering anymore. It was about human beings. It was about the people I worked with, and the people who would be on my team.

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On my first day in my new leadership position as an engineering production manager, I very quickly realised that most of the other people I worked with were not as excited as I was. They didn’t share my optimism to make things better. They didn’t like everyone on the team.

The team hadn’t met me before, and already they didn’t like me. They didn’t like the other engineering leaders, and they certainly didn’t like the senior leaders. Some members of the team didn’t even like the place where they worked (this was when I was in Edinburgh, Scotland).

It was a rude awakening, and my optimism and enthusiasm very quickly dropped.

On that first day as an engineering production manager, I attended the morning meeting. This was led by the production manager on shift, and he would assign the work to the team for the day. As it was my first day, I was shadowing the production manager to learn “the ropes” and get familiar with how the engineering depot worked.

Anyway, the meeting started and before anything was said, one of the team members put his hand up to ask a question, his name was Tam. His question was “Who the F*** is he and what is he doing here?” He was pointing at me. When he said that, I froze.

I was so nervous, trembling and confused, I didn’t know what to say. I hadn’t been confronted like that since I was 16 during my apprenticeship.

The production manager, introduced me as the new engineering production manager on shift. Then Tam asked me, “Have you been a manager before?” I said, “I have but I haven’t had my own team before.”

His reply was, “What makes you think you can come here from Liverpool and manage us then?” This wasn’t going very well, and I had to do something.

2. Addressing The Situation

I asked Tam to come with me for a quiet chat. When we were alone, I said to him “I know what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to embarrass me in front of your team because I’m the new manager. Well, it won’t work with me. So, we can both start again on the right foot, and go to work, or we can have a much deeper conversation about this and I can escalate to the senior leaders your behaviour….it’s your choice.” Fortunately he decided to start again with me, and we both made a clean slate of it.

I must admit, I could have probably handled the situation a lot better. But, it was this confrontation that really drove me to learn and study more about leadership.

After a few weeks of being in this new role, I learned that the production teams didn’t really trust us as production managers. What was dis-heartening was that the other production managers knew it, but didn’t really do anything to address it.

I wanted the team to trust me, and I wanted the team to like me. But, I knew I needed to be the one to build the trust with the team and not the other way around.

It was difficult because I started to build a relationship and trust with two members of the team, but as this was happening, I was actually creating distrust with other members of the team.

Trust is a “two way street”, and we really only trust the people who are similar to us and share the same values. We all have different values. However, the one value that everybody shares is ourselves.

3. Being Clear Of Your Intentions

So, how do you build trust with everyone on your team, who all share different values? You need to be very clear of your intentions with the team. You are the leader of the team, but you are also on the team’s level, and are one of them.

Any successes that happen from your team, it will be the team that is responsible, not you. Your main intention and objective is to help each individual on the team to become better people, and also a better team.

Being intentional and deliberate with your team like this, is how the team will understand exactly what your intentions are. Be very clear on why you are doing what you are doing, or saying what you are saying. When you tell them the reason for your action, you are confirming what the team were already thinking.

Don’t just do, or say something without a reason. Otherwise, the team will not understand why you are doing what you are doing, and will make assumptions about you, what you say, what you do, and why you’re their leader. Most of the time these assumptions are negative.

The only way to avoid these negative thoughts by your team is to be very clear of your intentions. Always tell the truth with your team, and be open with them. What we as leaders need to come to terms with is, whenever we tell our teams our intentions, they don’t believe us.

4. You Cannot Please Everybody All The Time

What they believe is their own interpretation of what we say. Most of the time it is the wrong interpretation. When you are reading this article, it is likely that you don’t believe what I am saying either. This is a human fact, and something we all need to come to terms with. We do this without knowing we are doing it.

Do you agree with what I just said? If you do, then it is clear that you believe what I just told you. If you disagree, then you don’t. You need to realise that what you have just told yourself you believe, wasn’t actually what I really said.

It was your interpretation of what I just said. This is exactly the same when you talk to your team. They interpret what you said, and most of the time it is wrong.

To overcome this, you need to do exactly what you say you are going to do. The action you take needs to be right down the line of what you say. When you align your action exactly to what you say, this is what builds trust with your team.

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Your team will then interpret what you initially told them in the right way. That is why we have phrases like “walk the talk.” It means, do exactly what you say you are going to do. This will increase your influence as you build the trust up.

If you say one thing and then do another, then you are creating distrust, and your influence will decrease.

There are two ways you can be intentional. You can either be intentional to motivate your team, or you can be intentional to manipulate your team.

When you manipulate your team, it becomes an “us and them”, toxic environment and culture within the team. When you motivate your team, it becomes an “us and us” or, “we”, inspirational environment and culture.

When you are very clear of your intentions, you are providing your team with your compelling vision. They know what you want to achieve for the team, and why you want to achieve it. When you respect your team, they will trust you. When you trust your team, you value them. When you value your team, they will respect you.

Once the leader has been very clear of his/her intentions and what the vision is, the team will then take that vision as their own. They will live the vision, and protect it. The leader will do exactly the same.

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

Check out my other articles by Clicking HERE

All the best,

Tom (LeadGrowInfluence)

26 thoughts on “Do You Have A Leader’s Intentions?

  1. Hi Tom,

    I really enjoyed reading your article. I personally struggle with number 4. In a leading role, I remember I was preoccupied with trying to please all members in my team.
    It took me long time to accept that it is not my responsibility to make everyone happy and that if I do the my best, it is enough.
    Being a leader is hard and your advice is always the best I can find. Although not applicable to me anymore, I always forward your articles to my partner and my friends that are in management roles.

    All the best,
    Yoana

    1. Hi Yoana,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that you enjoyed reading it.

      I appreciate you sharing your struggles with us. I share your struggle in trying to please everybody, and as you say it isn’t always possible. As long as we do out best then that is all we can do.

      Thank you for sharing my articles with your friends and partner, I appreciate that.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  2. Hey Tom! thanks for sharing another aswesome post about leadership. A true leader always puts his team in the first place and tries to reflect his vision on every member of the team. I’ve read an interesting book called Think and Grow Rich where the author has devoted an entire chapter to the power of a team. I can see a lot of similar suggestions in your work, which is a good thing, by the way. I like reading about your experience as well. Keep sharing the good stuff!

    1. Hi Ivan,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really happy that you found this article awesome.

      I love the book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill too. I think I might be due another read of that book. I’m, flattered that you see some similarities between his team principles and mine. I really appreciate that.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  3. Fabulous article there Tom. Some of the catch words are still in my head; It’s so true that You Cannot Please Everybody All The Time.
    I see that you have some great articles on your site which I would love to read too. Thanks.
    Regards,
    Aps

    1. Hi Aparna,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you found this a fabulous article.

      Please do read more of my articles as there is so much to learn in the world of leadership, personal growth and influence.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  4. Hey Tom, first and foremost you are always going to come across “idiots” like the one who was hell bent on trying to embarrass you or was he just testing you to see how you responded?

    {I remember back in 78′ in Belfast in the forces, the first week they tested you to see how you responded. If that went badly you were in for a rough tour]

    I know its a little different but the principle is the same!

    He wanted to know how far he could push the boundary.

    However, I think you handled the situation extremely well, and if that had been me I wouldn’t have been so diplomatic, but in business you have to have diplomacy.

    Great article and thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi Mick,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you resonated with this article.

      I really appreciate you sharing your similar experiences to mine, as I believe lots of people will resonate with what you went through too. As you say, we will always come across people that try and push the boundaries with you. How we handle these tells a lot about our character.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  5. I love this post and I really gained a lot from it. For one, I have always struggled with being a leader in general. Now that I am running my own business I feel I have to step up to that role. Especially now that I have my own set of affiliates that promote my work. Defining my mission and knowing my intention 100% will help me lead my team and make my vision their vision as well. I really appreciate your article!

    1. Hi Shyla,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you found the article valuable and you have gained a lot from it.

      I love your honesty in saying that you struggle with being a leader. Don’t let that get you down because we all struggle with leadership at times. There is no such thing as a perfect leader who doesn’t struggle. It’s just how we handle that struggle and get over it that tells a lot about our character.

      While running your own business you certainly do need to take that next step and it sounds like you have. so keep up that amazing work.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  6. Great post! I’m so happy that I came across it; it really made me think on a deeper level. I agree with what what you said when you wrote that trust is a two way street. Especially as a leader, you may have tendencies to trust people more similar to you, but that wouldn’t be fair to everyone else. As many others said, I too personally struggle with #4. Its impossible to please everyone. Always try your best, but never beat yourself up when you fall short. Thanks for sharing your mind-opening ideas!

    1. Hi Aminah,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really happy too that you came across the article and found it valuable, especially making you think deeper.

      I appreciate that you have shared your struggles as others who have commented also struggle with pleasing everybody. We would all love to please everybody, but it is just impossible to do all the time.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  7. Great article! This is such an important topic so I’m glad you have shared all about leaders intentions. Helpful tools everyone can use everyday and I’m going to get the ebook too!

    1. Hi Alyse,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great how important you have found the article.

      I really appreciate that you will download the E-Book, thank you. I hope you enjoy and I would love to hear your feedback.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  8. Hi Tom,

    Firstly, I have to say I actually thought you dealt with Tam fairly well. You may not have felt it at the time, but “firm but fair” will typically earn respect of those who are willing to put in the hard work.

    I completely agree that you cannot please everyone all of the time, but if you set your intentions in an honest, genuine, and heartfelt way, this is yet another way that you’re team will learn to respect you.

    As for “walk the walk and talk the talk”, this is a principle that I have long lived by, and it does seem to produce the desired results.

    I’ve typically always been a manager who “likes to get his hands dirty”, and often this can be the difference between having your team following your leadership or remaining ill at ease with you.

    A great read as always Tom.

    Partha

    1. Hi Partha,

      Thank you for your comment. As always I’m so pleased that you find these articles valuable.

      It’s great that you live by the “walk the walk and talk the talk” principle, we need more leaders all over the world who believe in this principle too.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  9. As always, I loved reading your article. Sometimes you just have to do something wrong to better know what should have been the right way.
    I am reading an interesting book at the moment that is called (translated, because the book is in Dutch) “Socrates on sneakers”. It’s especially interesting because the writer gives examples on how we can build on understanding each other better. By standing in the other person’s shoes at times.
    A book I coincidently read about this morning, but haven’t read myself yet is Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Hochschild. I’ll DM you the link to an article about it! 🙂
    I am interested in this stuff, because I want to be a leader for my tribe of followers and am trying to find my voice. I think in the beginning I tried too hard to please everyone and now I am more outspoken in my opinions. That feels better!

    1. Hi Hannie,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so happy that you loved the article and my other articles too, it means so much to me.

      I completely agree, when we do something wrong or make a mistake then we MUST learn from it, and ensure we don’t make the same mistake again.

      We definitely do need to understand each other better, and this comes down to listening. Too many people listen to reply rather than listening to understand, and then reply. If we did this more often then we would understand each other better.

      Enjoy the rest of your book and keep working hard on understanding your people.

      All the best,

      Tom

  10. Hi Tom. This is a great article to learn as it is not only can apply in work but in any part of our life too.

    Thing cannot be done by alone as we need to work together to make it happen. We have to learn to drop our ego mind aside and step out so that we can see a bigger picture. Treat the team as a whole, as part of you and motivate one and another, that’s how to make thing happen.

    I truly agree with you that our intention is very important. A intention of benefits more people always will receive a good returns.

    All the best to you!

    1. Hi Janet,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you sound this article valuable.

      I agree that leadership is just as important in our personal lives just as much as in the workplace. Especially for parents, who lead their children every day.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  11. Hi, Tom,

    Awesome post, I love it!

    I have never been in a leadership position during my career and it always seemed extremely difficult for me.

    People are different in their essence and I thought that a good leader should be wise enough to find approach to each and every person on his team. So that every member of the team share the same values and pursue the same goal.

    It’s leader’s responsibility what results his team achieves at the end of ech month, right?

    Thank you for sharing these tips. It makes a better sense for me now.

    Cheers,

    Natalie

    1. Hi Natalie,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you found this an awesome article and that you love it, means so much to me.

      I couldn’t agree with you more, people are different and we can’t approach everybody in the same way. But, we can have the right intentions for every person. You are right, it is most certainly the leader’s responsibility for what the team achieves. But, if we delegate in the right way then the task becomes the team’s responsibility.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  12. You are so right about the forth one, you can’t and you SHOULDN’T please everyone one. Sometimes you just have to do your thing and don’t worry what others have to say about you…

    Btw, I liked your article so much, keep it up!

    5minutes well spent…

    1. Hi Gorjan,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you found the article valuable.

      You are right that we can’t please everyone all the time, but we must always keep the right intentions.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  13. Hello Tom. Your article was a absolute great read. The dynamics of being a leader or in a leader position can be overwhelming. And sometimes it is not possible ” to please everyone ” – I don’t believe you should . But having clear communication and respect towards those you are over-seeing will go a long way. Thank you for all the insightful information. Keep well

    1. Hi Felicity,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you found this article a great read, means so much.

      I completely agree that we shouldn’t and can’t really please everyone at all times, but that doesn’t mean we think of those people less. We will please them at other times. Respect is an absolute must with everyone when it comes to your people. It is a two way street and it must be earned first by giving respect.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

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