Be Intentional: Insights from Carla Harris’ Keynote Speech at Linkage’s GILD 2018
Leadership is a contact sport, you have to be intentional. Carla Harris opened her keynote speech at the Global Institute for Leadership Development in Palm Desert, CA last week with a powerful idea about being intentional. Carla says she is intentional about asking herself everyday,
“What are you playing for today Carla? What are we trying to get out of this?”
Carla was able to break down eight things leaders should be intentional about in order to become more purposeful leaders. She mentioned when you are intentional about these eight things, you can be on your way to becoming a more purposeful leader. Everything purposeful leaders do has intention. Because of this, leaders have to be willing to constantly evolve if they want to be in the state of being a purposeful leader.
These are the eight areas a purposeful leader needs to be intentional about:
Intentional About Authenticity
First of all, “Authenticity is hard earned and hard learned,” explained Carla. She went on to say very few people know who they are authentically. Do you know who you are authentically? Who are you authentically in great times? Do you know who you are authentically in hard times?
also, it is your authenticity that allows you to own a relationship. If you are too preoccupied to think like you OUTGHT to think, you won’t hear what you OUGHT to hear.
(If you spend your life trying to be someone else, you will never listen for what you should listen for – what your authentic self would listen for.)
Your authenticity is your distinct competitive advantage.
Because most people don’t know who they are authentically. When people see someone comfortable in their own skin, someone who is truly authentic, they will gravitate towards you.
Carla mentioned before someone brought her into a meeting once, they said, “Oh you are a singer.” 15 minutes into the meeting – they saw her from a different lens. They realized Carla Harris the singer was in the room with Carla Harris the banker. Carla shared how now she brings speaker, writer, mother, golfer, football fan, all those Carla’s to the table.
She finished this thought by saying, as a result,
“Your authenticity is at the heart of your power. It’s imperative you bring your authentic self to the table.“
It is imperative that you find out who you are, and how you are doing as who you are. When you are in your leadership seat, you move and inspire. When you move and inspire authentically then your team can bring their authenticity to the table and you get the very best of those that work with you.
Be Intentional About Building Trust
As a purposeful leader, you must be intentional promising and delivering promises to build trust.
Carla simple advice is to just say, “I trust you.”
When you say “I trust you” your team is motivated and inspired to deliver. None of us want to let anybody down. When you say “I trust you” you are doing something on their behalf. Part of what you need to do is broaden your connections in the firm, you need to meet a, b, c.
When you deliver on those three things, and the next time you say you will do x, your connections will trust that you will deliver. Say you trust them and do it for their own good.
“When you bring your authentic self, people trust you. You cannot just assume people want to follow you because you are good at what you do. They trust you when you have their best interest at heart, when you listen to them, they know that you have their back. So, you must constantly communicate that you are worthy of their trust – your title and seat does not mean you deserve their trust.”
Trust is at the heart of any successful relationship. When you believe you have their best interest at heart, you have to believe you are worthy of their trust.
Be Intentional About Creating Clarity
A leader’s job is to define clarity and give hope. As a purposeful leader, you don’t want to dictate action. Creating clarity about the direction about where you would like to end up leaves enough room for someone else to define the structure. Which could end up in a better outcome than what you have envisioned.
People CRAVE Feedback and Clarity. When they are given real direction, they are motivated to perform. Be very clear about what they need to do to be successful.
An essential part of trust is transparency. Transparency is tenet to building trust for younger generations who value it so highly. These generations are known for walking out the door of companies that are not transparent very fast, and taking their talents to their competitors. You have to tell people how you are doing things along the way. It’s not about having the answers but providing clarity.
Be Intentional About Creating Leaders
Creating Leaders….from execution to empowerment is a journey. Carla explained,
“My job now as a leader is to create leaders. I know that feeling of doing it. I now get satisfaction of other people being leaders. To amplify your life is to extend, create other leaders you have to make sure you are intentional. I am going to make sure that person gets to the next level.”
Be Intentional About Diversity
Being intentional about diversity is an in-house accelerator. You need a lot of ideas in the room. If you need a lot of ideas to get to that one, you need a lot of experience because perspectives are born from experiences. Experiences are born from people.
Take generational diversity for example, Baby Boomers want to “just do it”. Boomers want to take action, where Millennials must see it. A common example would be, if you tell a Baby Boomer, “hey you need to work hard on this”, they will go work hard on it. If you tell a Millennial, “hey you need to work hard on this” Millennials will say, “for the purpose of what?” Millennials need transparency, they need to know the reasons behind why they are doing the things they do. Because of these differing perspectives, although at times it breeds conflict, it can be a power house for innovation if you are intentional about diversity.
There is a stigma that Millennials don’t care, these young professionals really do care. A lot of young, talented Millennials are doing amazing things at places like Google and Apple. Our competition is now against places like Google and Instagram where Millennials look at and see diverse team. They see that they will be included, and that someone will listen to them. This is why you have to be intentional about diversity.
Nurture Diversity in Your Company
When you bring in diversity, you must guard against organ rejection. It will naturally dispel something that is foreign. For example, if I get a new kidney, my body will reject that kidney, unless I have the right medications to help it. The reason why is that kidney is a foreign body, the medication we use helps something “foreign” be integrated into the body. When you have a company that lacks diversity, and you start introducing diverse people into your company, you need to be intentional about having the right medicine. Make sure you give your company the medicine they need to help them succeed, this might be cultural awareness training. This helps ensure that your company as a whole accepts and understands the importance of having a diverse team and embraces that.
Be Intentional About Inclusivity
How do you become an inclusive leader? Be inclusive about people’s voices. Use team dynamics to solicit voices and work collaboratively. Don’t be offended when someone comes up with a counter idea. Make sure that your team takes time to get input from the quietest person in the room.
On inclusivity, Carla mentioned, “listen, I may not be the smartest person in the room, but I want to win, so we need to share our ideas.” Make sure you have an ambidextrous team.
Be Intentional About Teaching Innovation
Be intentional about innovation. Teach people to fail, to be comfortable taking risks. If they are not comfortable, they will NOT innovate. Frankly, we don’t take risks because we are scared. Fear has no place in your success equation. You do not want to displace your fear on your team. If there is a failure, you get something out of it by trying. You have to voice that and give them an “atta boy” for taking that risk. People are afraid of change, failure, and success. With change people are afraid to leave that things we are familiar with.
“If you are afraid, you can’t innovate.”
You can’t get to 2nd base with your foot still on first.
Be Intentional About Exercising your Voice
Finally, but certainly not the least, your voice is at the heart of your power. You must exercise your voice, you can’t afford to have your seat at the table and NOT exercise your voice. It will feel uncomfortable.
Carla shared a story reflecting on a situation regarding hiring summer interns.
After the interview process when discussing one candidate one person mentioned,
“I don’t know if we ought to give her an offer, I’m not sure about her quantitative skills.”
So Carla responded,
“Oh, how do we know?”
After all, all she had to do was say something. Because they had failed to give the intern quantitative exercises, THEY FAILED! Carla said to remember,
“if you have been invited into the room…you have a seat at the table. “
Your voice is at the heart of your power.
It certainly takes courage and the act of being intentional to be a purposeful, powerful, impactful leader. Above all, it takes courage to call a thing a thing, courage to define success, and to leverage someone else’s intellect. Lastly, Carla mentions that she sees a lot of leaders who lack the courage to innovate to think out of the box. She said, to max your success – expect and strategize intentionally to win.
So, How are you going to be a more intentional and purposeful leader?
Read more on the Purposeful Leadership Model Here.