Leading with Intention | Book Review

...but those who made the decision to be more self-aware and intentional achieved higher-level results in terms of both the positions they've held and the impact they've had than those who continued to operate primarily from intuition (p. 12).

Dr. Mindy Hall's tightly crafted work is a terrific companion and precursor to Crucial Conversations. Subtitled Every Moment is a Choice, Dr. Hall's work aligns well with the three days of an Academy Leadership Excellence Course (LEC): Parts I and II are similar to an LEC day one focus on self; Part III mirrors an LEC day two focus on others and in particular how to communicate and understand people; PartsIV and V correspond to an LEC day three focus on organizational excellence (accountability & coaching) and action plan follow through (p. xv).

I | Know Yourself

Dr. Hall correlates low self-evaluation scores in our Setting Leadership Priorities Workshop encountering the ubiquitous question: Who has time to think about "who they are being while they are being"? (p. 3). Her three layers of growth model (p. 5) remind us of the Knowing-Doing Gap; as both require consistency in behaviors resulting from new knowledge, and that very few translate awareness into action. 

How aware are you of how you're perceived? (p. 9) Recall our LEC introductory point that 87% of leaders believe they are good communicators while only (via Tom Peters Group) 17% of corresponding subordinates agree. Decades of consulting and coaching have informed Dr. Hall nearly 80% of those [she has] worked with did not lead intentionally - they operated out of intuition, pattern, and reaction (p. 11).  She retells a story of a memorable general manager: He recognized the impact of his position, actions, and words, and aligned them with purpose (p. 16), further reinforcing that many informal leaders do not realize the amount of influence they hold in their organizations (p. 19).

Eight questions on pages 28-29 are self-evaluation or accountability questions, which foster reflection and positive reactions like the active questions Marshall Goldsmith shares in Triggers. We can go even further and share these questions as part of our Personal Leadership Philosophy commitment to feedback. This level of awareness may create an energizing place like the one Dr. Hall described: "... an energy and excitement in the air. People talked about possibilities for the future. They spoke of each other with high regard. Leaders were accessible, knowledgeable, and interested (p. 34)."

Chapter 11 (pp. 39-41) directly relates to our our truth, relationship & identity triggers (see Thanks for the Feedback) and additionally mentions how we each have stories of ourselves, as we discovered in Crucial Conversations. Dr. Hall shares ten terrific questions (p. 43) allowing self-awareness; or what you are doing while you are doing it, how you are being while you are being it, and what you are thinking while you are thinking it. On page 56 she asks the fundamental question:

"How does this philosophy show up in my actions?
Is there more I can do to bring these words to life?"

II | Know Your People

Dr. Hall cites John Kotter - that communication must go beyond just informing; it must excite people by connecting to their values (p. 60). She relates a valuable 360-type coaching story: Her (the client) perception of the way she operated and the way she actually operated were not congruent (p. 64). The client was unaware until the evaluation revealed objective observations and some "tough love" feedback. Are we brave enough for this unvarnished feedback? We should be.

Where might this level of communication lead to? Dr. Hall shares an example of perhaps the ultimate crucial conversation, the story of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (p. 75) in post-apartheid South Africa. What prevents us from this level of interchange? Dr. Hall answers: Far too often when we get frustrated or bored, we opt out -- emotionally or physically -- from conversations that we deem difficult or uninteresting, particularly if there is a point of tension (p. 76). She reiterates the need for courage (p. 77):

"When you have to sense and say what is 'hanging in the air'; essentially, when you read the dynamics in a room and you must decide whether or not to share with candor what you observe."

III | Know Your Stuff | Action Plan

On page 84, Dr. Hall discusses audience [my term] and how to test perceptions by asking questions during a meeting or simply by being hyper-attuned to the conversation. An outstanding Chapter 23, Moving Beyond Functional Expertise, corresponds well with the need for (360 review) transition from leadership competencies to leadership characteristics, reflecting that much less attention is usually given to the development of skills for organizational leadership (p. 87). Dr. Hall asks "How do you impact the culture and tone of the organization? How does the culture and tone impact you?" (p. 91). Her terrific definition of culture (p. 93) is also a reminder of the environmental cultivation required of an effective leader:

Culture is the social energy built over time that can move people to act or impede them from acting.

Similar to the Kotter eight stage change process model, Dr. Hall uses the Peak Development CLEAR Model (see Figure 25.1 p. 94), which actively links an organization to its culture. She emphasizes the number one way culture is shaped is by what leaders model (p. 97). Like findings in our High Payoff Activities from the Setting Leadership Priorities workshop, as we grow as leaders we must focus on who [we] are being (p. 100) rather than what [we] have gotten done.

To do this, Dr. Hall introduces a useful four-dimensional developmental focus model consisting of interactive effectiveness, meeting effectiveness, strategic effectiveness, and execution effectiveness (pp. 107-108).


Like Stanley McChrystal's humble revelation Be a gardener, Dr. Hall's wisdom advises we Be a pebble in the pond (p. 119). She has realized all leadership is personal, and so is the obligation to affect others' lives (p. 115). It is a choice and a decision (p. 127) - bravo!

Additional Resources

Dr. Hall offers continued support with

The Leading with Intention Toolkit follow up tools;
Peak Development Radio - available on iTunes, and
Growing Your Organization - her periodic blog relevant to our workplace.

Note: Dr. Hall generously provided a copy of her book for review

JE | October 2016