6 key characteristics of an intentional leader
by Jim Mathis

The law of intentionality: No accomplishment or goal of worth is reached by accident. It requires an intentional effort to reach our goals and have a maximum impact on our lives and add value to others’ lives, too. Intentional leaders are in the people business first—and their industry second—to add value to everyone they encounter.

Not a Genius

I have a confession to make. In high school I wasn’t the smartest person in my class. I had high grades in a very competitive environment. I made the dean’s list and the honor roll frequently, but I didn’t score high enough to be at the top scholastically.

I was, however, one of the most intentional students in a structured military school. My sophomore year, I decided to run for “Funniest Man on Campus” and won by a landslide. The next year, I entered the race for school vice president, and I had to write an article about the race from an insider’s view for the school paper. Once I figured out how to get students to vote for me, I won again. I graduated as the most decorated ROTC officer in our school.

I was very active in church. I participated in choir, drama productions and community activities, all with a goal attached to them: to use my intentional creative skills to add value to others. That continues today.

The clients and leaders who bring me in say their people seem to lack the motivation to develop a productive daily routine. They know what they ought to do but allow other concerns to get in the way. It speaks to priorities and self-discipline, but often indicates a lack of focus. Many people don’t live intentional lives.

Our daily routines are often interrupted. If you have worked from home during the pandemic, you have realized what most of us who worked from home knew for years: Home offices lend themselves to distractions. It is hard to be intentional when minor disturbances constantly call your attention away from accomplishing major tasks.

If you live an intentional life, you will find yourself ignoring many distractions that will eventually take care of themselves. Intentional people know that if they focus on their purpose for business (or for life), everything else will fall in line behind their priorities.

Momentum Makers

Intentional people are self-motivated, and momentum has become their best friend. Motivation often makes large problems smaller. Motivation makes you excited to accomplish each task and see it through to the finish. Motivated people generate their own momentum—and momentum takes care of many distractions.

Intentional homecare business leaders have a passion to be significant and to contribute to the lives of others. They seek to add value to the world around them with their talents and skills. They want to make a difference. Check out these six characteristics of an intentional leader.

1. Intentional leaders are purpose driven.

They know their purpose in life and want to take steps to accomplish that purpose every day. They know who they are and what they can do to add value to others. If they are good at their purpose, then they have found a way to contribute and get people to pay them for it. They don’t wait to get “good” at something to start accomplishing their purpose.

What are you good at doing? Don’t wait to start until you’re the best at it; start now to become not only good, but better. Know your purpose and start using what you have. Spend time each day or each week improving your strengths. Put aside your weaknesses and focus on getting better, just as an artist practices drawing simple objects or a hockey player practices taking the shots they are great at making.

2. Intentional leaders are never satisfied with the status quo.

They work outside of their comfort zones. Stretch yourself to gain new ground every day. Be so uncomfortable with yesterday’s accomplishments that you want to exceed them today. Never rest on your laurels.

Consider how many championship teams fail to repeat the next season. They sit back, sign autographs and lose the competitive edge. Repeat champions never forget what got them to the top. They stay in shape, keep their daily routines and set a repeat as their goal.

3. Intentional leaders see success as an ongoing journey, not a destination.

This speaks to your view of success. If it is a destination, you will almost always fail to reach it—or put off getting there. However, if you see success as a journey, each day brings a new step to take.

Prioritize the important tasks that it takes to be successful daily. Jim Rohan suggests making an “I should” list. These are things you should do. It has more impact than a to-do list. Make an “I should” list and start on it today. You can look at most people’s daily agenda and tell if they live intentionally or bounce from one circumstance to another.

4. Intentional leaders arrange their daily agendas according to their purpose & never defer from it.

Show up each day ready to accomplish something, whether it is your sales goal for the day, your management goal to train others or your service goals to help a people get better service from you. Add value to others and you will always find a sense of accomplishment and gain momentum. I guarantee that if you spend your time helping other people, you will have an improved attitude and success each day. Remember, you’re in the people business.

5. Intentional leaders are self-disciplined.

They are strong in setting personal boundaries. Their goals stretch them and are attainable with effort. Where do you want to be in three years, five years, next year? What steps will it take to get there before tomorrow to start that journey? How can you be an intentional individual in your field or on your team? How can you be so goal oriented that even the distractions are in awe of your purposeful actions? What sacrifices need to be made to focus on what is most necessary to meet your goals?

6. Intentional leaders are passionate about being the best they can be daily.

Think about how you drive over speed bumps. You slow down, take the bump slowly and move on. Do you ever look back at the impediment? Of course not! Intentional leaders turn roadblocks into speed bumps and move on, never looking behind them.

Remember the last time you made a sale? Or the last time you achieved an award for outstanding service or recognition? Remember how great you felt with the next task? That was a choice you made based on your feelings. Intentional people know how to make the same choice every day. They do not allow their feelings to make it for them. That is self discipline at its best. Your passion for success sets the pace for intentionality.

How can you be intentional about closing more sales today? How can you be intentional about being better at leading and equipping others today? How can you be intentional about giving better customer service to the next person you encounter?

Most importantly, how can you be intentional about your attitude toward work, the people you work with, the clients you meet and the circumstances that
arise today? What can you do to take control and live intentionally each moment going forward?

As you live intentionally, you will continually find that your passion is what carries you and that life matters more each day.

Jim Mathis, IPCS, CSP, CSML, is the Reinvention PRO, an international platform certified speaker, certified speaking professional, certified speaker and trainer with the Maxwell Leadership team and best-selling author of “Reinvention Made Easy: Change Your Strategy, Change Your Results.” To subscribe to his free professional development newsletter, send an email to subscribe@jimmathis.com with the word SUBSCRIBE in the subject. An electronic copy will be sent out to you every month. For more information on how Mathis and his programs can benefit your organization or group, call (407) 369-7842 or visit jimmathis.com.