Leaders can often struggle and have unintended negative consequences connected to their actions because they are not aware of the impact of their choices. Very few leaders set out to do “bad things” to their people or the business but sometimes the impact of the decisions are the opposite of what they were trying to achieve. And yet, many managers have to deal with these struggles everyday not fully knowing where the root of many of there problems began.
As an executive coach, I always find that my coaching clients generally always have good intentions, often very admirable intentions. But often those intentions and subsequent actions are not fully thought out and the effect has a negative impact on the business. When intent does not match impact there is an issue brewing. And this situation creates a blindside for the leader as they are judging the situation through the lens of their intent as opposed to the impact their behavior is having on the business. This can happen in many ways. I have seen a sales manager institute a new incentive program hoping to inspire and motivate when in actuality the impact is one that sets up an overly competitive and destructive environment between sales staff. Once I observed a manager so zealous to mentor and coach her reports that she started to usurp their time so much they couldn’t get their work done. In her mind she was being a great and caring manager but the impact felt was the opposite.
There are hundreds of examples that I could share with you that I have witnessed myself but the key here is not only to check your intent and make sure that it has positive backing but to think through how that intent will be actualized. Will your behavior have the intended consequences? It is critical to think this through. This requires both strong self-awareness and an acute awareness of your work environment. Remember the old saying that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”