The Holy trinity of Intention action andcommunication is one that can distinguish a good leader from a bad one. When leaders are able to effectively action their intentions and communicate the same they are able to achieve desired results and outcomes.
Individuals within an organization will look to a leader as a model to develop their own behaviours and decisions. As we said in our last case study on the topic, while people tend to judge themselves based on intentions, they judge others based on actions. As a leader, it is imperative that your behaviours reflect your values and your vision.
Lets say you need to get a buy in from your team on a new initiative, it becomes crucial that you demonstrate its importance through your words and deeds. The leader’s behaviour, actions and words must all work in tangent to arouse within the team the feelings of trust, motivation and acceptance in order for them to lend their support and devote their time to the goal. Dissonance of any sort between action, intention and words will lead to feelings of mistrust and delay or jeopardise the intended buy-in.
Lets see some examples of when our actions don’t align with our words/intentions
When a manager gives a pep talk to his whole team on how important it is for them to put in the hours to meet deadlines but leaves early each day and especially so on Fridays
When managers encourage teams to come up with creative solutions but when the solution does not work is unsupportive and criticizes time them for wasting time and money and belittles them.
When we tell our children that there are consequences for their actions so that they will learn how to behave, but when it comes down to it and the work involved in keeping up the punishment/consequence is too much and we let is go and let them have their way.
In all these cases we see the intention was perhaps right (tomotivate, to encourage and the teach good behaviour) yet when actions don’t match up, the purpose it lost.
In the first case the manager is viewed as a fraud and loses credibility with his team for not walking the talk. In the second he is viewed as a hypocrite (someone who says something but believes another) and in the third case the parent is viewed as someone who can be easily manipulated and taken advantage of.
In my pursuit of understanding the intention – action gap further, I stumbled upon the Haven communication model. This model was developed as a tool to help people understand the various facets of communication.
Keeping in mind the bigger picture or context of the interaction we can see in this model the interconnectedness between Intention, action perception, interpretation and feeling .
One of the circles in the diagram above contains the word perceptions. This word attributes to the inputs we receive from our 5 senses – sight, sound, smell, touch, taste –In themselves, these have inputs don’t mean much but our brain processes these both consciously and subconsciously to arrive at meaning and conclusions.. It is through this interpretation that we make sense of all the inputs received by our senses. Based on our interpretations we experience feelings. Feeling that could be positive or negative Positive feelings reinforce intentions and actions whereas negative feelings make us want to retract and rethink. They invoke mistrust and contempt.
This model can be applied to ourselves to double check if our actions are in sync with our intentions understand the inputs someone may receive from these actions and consider the interpretations and feelings it may evoke in them.
It may also be applied to someone else’s actions and behaviours, to assess their true intentions or to have a better grasp over a given interaction, situation or a person. Like the old adage goes, it is one viscous circle of thoughts words and actions,
Watch your thoughts, they become your words;watch your words, they become your actions;watch your actions, they become your habits;watch your habits, they become your character;watch your character, it becomes your destiny.