The Power of Intention
This month I was thrilled to be the opening keynote speaker for the 2014 BoardSource Leadership Forum held in Washington, D.C. In a packed house of nearly 900 leaders from purpose-driven organizations, BoardSource CEO Anne Wallestad took the stage before me to share her thoughts on “intention” and its place in and out of the boardroom. Anne and I had not coordinated our speeches and we met that morning for the first time, but I too talked about intention and why it looms so large for leadership.
Intention is defined as “a determination to act in a certain way.” In my talk, I noted that boards must express the power of intention by “getting the big ideas right,” measuring and strengthening culture, and driving dialogue in more effective ways. With distraction now everywhere, we must use deep amounts of reflection if we are to “act a certain way.”
Leadership thinking across many domains now features intention. This spring, for example, Dr. Clifford Hudis, immediate past President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, delivered an extraordinary address on the future of the oncology profession and ridding the world of the fear of cancer. Intention is powerfully woven into the fabric of his entire speech. For anyone who wishes to learn where oncology is today and where it must go in the future, this is a must watch speech.
As I reflected on boards and their need for clearly stated intention, I wondered aloud at BoardSource about The ALS Association. This summer’s Ice Bucket Challenge raised nearly $115M. Rarely has an organization had such a wide audience ready and able to respond to clear intentions like those behind ALS’s vision to achieve its important social goal. If The ALS Association acts with the clarity and collaboration they intend and recently announced, I believe they could become the case study for how intention enables an organization to become a learning organization, something so few organizations are able to achieve.
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