From Abraham Lincoln to Winston Churchill and Henry Ford to Steve Jobs, exemplary leaders demonstrate edge — a clear and unique ability that defines their style of leadership and inspires others to follow. Lincoln’s edge was his resolute commitment while being vulnerable in his confidence. Jobs’ was his drive for absolute perfection of what others would deem impossible. While the each of these notable leaders had a different and unique edge, none were incidental. They were intentional. Intentional leadership is the ability to examine yourself, become self-aware of what you truly want to accomplish, and affirm how you desire to do so.
If you wish to find your unique edge, the path to intentional leadership starts with documenting a Leadership Agenda.
A Leadership Agenda is a description of an individual’s unique leadership qualities and how they influence others. It says nothing about the leader’s company, but acts as the cornerstone of intentionality that they bring with them everywhere they go — work, home, church, sports, and so on. It guides and reinforces the influence the leader brings to these environments and the people in them. The Leadership Agenda achieves this, in part, by compelling the leader to give form to their own story.
To better illustrate this, imagine yourself transported to a seat on a ride at Disneyland. Beside you is a child — one young enough to still enjoy the blurred boundaries between imagination and reality. As the ride proceeds, this child will experience stages and degrees of wonder and awe beyond what you and your adult brain could ever derive from your seat on this ride. If you asked the child to afterward explain their excitement, they would never be able to put that story into words that could replicate what they have experienced. It exists in their head. You can only observe their excitement and wonder and play along to the best of your grown-up ability.
Similar to how a young child’s wild imagination could shape a Disneyland ride into a magical experience, your own experiences in the ride we call life has shaped you as a person and a leader, forming a story that is called your leadership. And like the child in this example, most leaders can’t tell that story. They are unable to succinctly describe their leadership. What is the result? Not only do they leave those around them struggling to imagine what they’re seeing (or worse, merely playing along) but they are not consistent in practicing their style. Most leaders, to the extent that they are competent leaders, are unconsciously competent leaders. They don’t consciously know their story, or certainly not well enough to articulate it. But this ability to know and translate a vision is a crucial difference between leadership and management.
“A Leadership Agenda empowers you to maintain a clear distinction between what is impactful and what is merely important..”
A Leadership Agenda empowers you to maintain a clear distinction between what is impactful and what is merely important, resisting the tyranny of the urgent and elevating deeper priorities in a true and sustained fashion. And it enables you to surround yourself with leaders with whom you are compatible, attracting those who will engage with and invest in the story that you hope will become your legacy.
What defines your story? How intentional is your leadership? Start your own Leadership Agenda at our L3 Leadership Workshop in Vail, Colorado.