The Top 7 Inhibitors of Intentional Influence
1. A Lack of Awareness
A simple lack of awareness is one of the biggest inhibitors to intentional influence. So many of us are focused on ‘go, go, go’ and ‘do, do, do’ that it simply doesn’t occur to us to consider this aspect of leadership. This is how we’ve grown up, what we’ve learned and how we’re continuing to see our colleagues and peers act.
A good friend of mine, Brooke was telling me about the path she took to become a lawyer. She’d been told her whole life that it would be something that she would be good at. And she had the grades, and the opportunity, so she thought it was the path she should go down. Although it did turn out to be something that she was good at, she never took the time to think about whether it would be good for her. She was never intentional about her choice because she wasn’t really aware that she could be. She has since gone on to become a writer and now far more fulfilled in her work, something that wasn’t even on her radar growing up.
Combatting this Inhibitor: Keep learning and educating yourself always, so you can be open to opportunities in your life.
2. The Fear of Stuffing Up
This is one of the most common leadership fears generally – the fear of stuffing up. At its most basic level, this is the fear that you aren’t good enough, the imposter if you like. You fear that you don’t know what you’re doing or that somehow you’re ‘going to be found out’.
When you’re struggling under the weight of this fear, it stops you from seeing the big picture, and putting together the connections you need to in order to run your team or business with intentionality. It keeps you from growing, trying and believing that you can make a difference.
Combatting this Inhibitor: Just get started. Do something small to take the first step.
3. Misunderstood Values
Another inhibitor of intentional influence is when leaders haven’t worked out what’s important to them. This comes down to not having a sense of themselves, or at least being unable to work out how to translate those personal values into the business or expert space. These leaders don’t have a deep understanding of what motivates them and drives them or what aligns with their goals, hopes and dreams. And this leaves them in a weak position when it comes to making decisions with intentionality.
Combatting this Inhibitor: Ask yourself, what feels good? It’s a good place to start to figure out your values.
4. No Sense of Belonging
Another thing that holds us back from having intentional influence is when we don’t have a strong sense of belonging within a group. When you have a strong sense of belonging in a group or a tribe, then you have a common purpose. There’s a reason why you’ve come together and that reason is often something that you’ve identified as an important cause or value to you.
For example, Mark and I are in a Brisbane Squishy Face Facebook group. This is a place where we can share our passion for English Bulldogs, offer advice to others or ask questions about or his breed in general. Through this group, we’re often invited to do things, and be involved in various ways with other bulldog owners. And it’s nice because we all have a common reason for being there – our dogs.
When you have a sense of belonging in any group, you feel safe to make thoughtful, value-based, intentional decisions, rather than reactive, rushed and action-based decisions.
Combatting this Inhibitor: Practice unconditional self-acceptance. When you can accept yourself you can better find the tribe where you feel that you belong.
5. Feeling Powerless
Another strong inhibitor for intentional influence is feeling powerless – or like you don’t have a choice. When you feel this way, you are stuck under the feeling that you don’t have the ability to change anything. Or that you simply have to accept things the way they are. Often this plays out as an inability to be heard because you haven’t learned how to speak up or ask for what you want.
My mum recently had a bad fall outside of a café in her hometown of Ballina in Northern NSW. She cracked a rib, broke her elbow and, more frustrating to her, her brand new glasses. The fall was caused by some tree roots that had pushed up the paving creating a tripping hazard. When I spoke to her she hadn’t called the council because she hadn’t wanted to bother anyone about it. But I reminded her that she didn’t need to be rude or confrontational, but she was never going to get help if she didn’t ask. She ended up calling the council and speaking to a lovely woman who listened to her concerns and kindly helped her file a report. The outcome is still pending but my mum felt good having space to be heard.
…or Waiting for Someone to Listen
Sometimes you might find that you’re also waiting around for people to listen to you. But the problem here is the people are busy in their own lives. They might not notice that you’ve got something to say if you aren’t able to speak up yourself.
I worked with a man once who was taking my Science of Happiness course I delivered many years ago. He told me how one of the things that decreased his feelings of contribution in his role was that his boss always bumped his weekly meeting. He said made him feel undervalued. So I asked him, ‘have you ever asked him if the time could be changed perhaps?’ He hadn’t, and this meant that his boss might not have even realised the impact his actions were having. We’re all only human after all. As a result, he managed to change the recurring meeting time to a Friday instead of Mondays when it was proving to be too hectic. Instead, he now had a space to meet each week, get answers to his questions and feel like he was really making an impact in his role.
Combatting this Inhibitor: Identify where you might be feeling like you’re losing your power. What would you need to be curious about to step into your power?
6. Not Creating Space to Think
It’s difficult to have intentional influence if you haven’t given yourself the space to think. When you don’t, you get stuck in the trap of just doing, doing, doing, without considering why you’re taking the actions that you are. Though this happens to all of us at one time or another, it keeps you trapped in a loop where you aren’t creating influence intentionally, but are simply spinning your wheels.
Instead, create some space to think, where you can work out what you’re trying to do and accomplish. You’ll also want to reflect on what has worked, and what hasn’t, and what has brought you to a place of intentionality, and what has not. Having space to think allows you to see where you can have influence and what form you want that to take. One of our community members goes away for a few days at the beginning of the year to focus on reflection, intention and planning for the year ahead. This can be done simply by adding a recurrence in your calendar based on the cadence you need (daily, weekly, monthly, annually or quarterly).
Combatting this Inhibitor: Build in time consistently to consider what you’re trying to do and accomplish.
7. A Lack of Self Worth
When you value yourself and have a strong sense of self-worth, you believe that anything is possible. This belief then allows you to stretch yourself and put your intentionality into practice.
I often think of Lady Gaga when I think about intentionality and self-worth. No one tapped her on the shoulder and told her that she could be the creative pop icon she has become. She had enough self-worth to believe that she could… and so she did. If you have that sense of belief and understand that you’re worth it, then you can become intentional in your journey. If not you get stuck in the belief that what you do doesn’t matter.
Research shows that we have around 80,000 thoughts each day and 80% of our self-talk is negative. Making an intentional and conscious choice about how we speak to and treat ourselves can have a real impact on our self-worth.
Combatting this Inhibitor: Eliminate your own self-criticisms, catch yourself when you do and elevate your positive self-talk.
Why Does Intentionality Matter?
Understanding what intention is is important. Research shows that when you have a higher sense of purpose in life – meaning you have a sense of direction and goals – you’re more likely to remain healthy and physically strong as you age. But having intentionality is also the path to excellence. As Aristotle said, ‘Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny’.
You can think about having high intention as being like having a compass. You might not know exactly where you’re going all the time, but you’ll know whether or not you’re heading in the right direction. And that will lead you to excellence.
I’d love to hear your thoughts…
Jane Anderson is a strategic communications expert, speaker and the author of seven books including the upcoming Catalyst Content. With over 20 years of experience helping people to communicate confidently, she is obsessed with authentic influence and human connection to drive business growth in a world of disruption and automation. She delivers Content Creation Bootcamps (Virtual and Face to Face), Coaching and Keynotes. To inquire about her working with you or your organisation please contact us here.