Giving Intent

A leadership tool from the military I appreciate is “commander’s intent.” It’s a way to explain to a team the heart of what they need to accomplish to be successful.

Military leadership is focused on the idea that when a leader asks their team to do something complex, they should explain what and why, but not how. This method helps organizations harness the initiative and ingenuity of their people.

Intent is a way to provide more depth on the what and why. Here’s a simple format for it.

PURPOSE: Expanded explanation of why we are doing what we are doing

KEY TASKS: Elements of a successful outcome that must happen in order to accomplish the mission or goal

END STATE: The situation we want to have at the end of this project, with respect to what our team has accomplished, our relationship to key partners, and obstacles we’re facing.

Taking a few minutes to think through this framework can help teams take initiative and get more done.

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