This month’s theme is about Intention as a leadership practice. I recently visited Bhutan, a fascinating, tiny country in Asia, just south of Tibet and north of India. Famous for its breathtaking natural beauty and unique architecture, Bhutan was closed to the West until the early 1960’s. Television arrived only a decade ago, and there is still one highway north-south and one east-west with no traffic lights, even in the capital city.

Bhutan is well-known for its incredible landscape. Yet for a Westerner, what was remarkable was the prevalence of prayer flags. They are visible everywhere, particularly at high elevations, bridges, passes, and around fortresses and temples. The tall white ones are for the dead. They are placed in clusters perched together as they stand tall against the wind brought through the mountains and valleys. The colored ones represent the five elements. Blue is for the sky, white is for air, red for fire, green for water, and yellow for earth. Bhutanese believe that all five elements are important for having harmony and health.

This got me thinking about intention and how powerful it is as a practice.

When we surround ourselves with visual reminders of our intention, we provide “cues” to our mind and body as to what to attend to. I noticed myself wanting to share in this culture by hanging prayer flags when we visited auspicious places, allowing my intention to be part of that moment and that place. I noticed wanting to spin the prayer wheels that are outside each and every temple, and are by custom, spun by all who enter and leave. It reminded me to have an intention for that moment.

Although the custom was foreign to me, the rationale for it was not. We have the opportunity to set intentions as leaders, and we could benefit from visual reminders of those intentions. I have noticed that by bringing the notion of “intention” to clients, they begin to observe and behave differently.

Pay “attention” to your “intention.”

What is one small step you could take in the month ahead that would help you become more intentional in your leadership style?

By becoming aware of the power intention has, you can use it to support changes that help you become more effective in each day.

Author's Bio: 

Susan Freeman is an executive coach who is best known for her unique approach to leadership transformation–combining Western strategic discipline with Eastern integrative wisdom techniques. Her clients get to the root of what is holding them back, allowing access to their Natural Leader. They evolve their leadership in an integrated, balanced and sustainable way. When they do, they experience passion, clarity and exceptional results.

She is the author of, “Step Up Now: 21 Powerful Principles for People Who Influence Others,” as well as a public speaker on the inner dimensions of leadership. Her passion is working with motivated, high-achieving leaders and influencers.

Susan received her M.B.A. in Marketing from Columbia University and her B.A. in Psychology from Wellesley College. Susan is an accredited coach with the International Coach Federation, as well as with Newfield Network where she received her coaching training. She is also a certified business facilitator from the MSP Institute. Susan brings to her coaching more than 25 years of corporate, entrepreneurial and non-profit business management and leadership experience.

She volunteers to mentor young women leaders locally and globally. In Africa, she works closely with The Akilah Institute to help empower young women with the skills, knowledge and confidence to become leaders. Her book connects her to the school, where it is used in curriculum and where she donates all profits from its sales. In Tampa she has mentored young women through the Emerge Tampa program of the Greater Tampa Chamber and Frameworks Tampa Bay.

Susan is a native of Kansas City and resides in Tampa, FL. In Tampa she is an active member of The Athena Society and a Leadership Tampa Alumna. She has founded or served on several educational boards at the secondary and university levels.

Susan is happily married and has three grown sons. Her hobbies include ballroom dancing, travel and yoga. Rarely a day goes by when she doesn’t eat a piece of dark chocolate.