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Thanks for taking the time to read our weekly newsletter to help you get Unstuck! Check us out every week for your dose of agile inspiration. We’re striving to keep the content in our 4 Qs brief and powerful so you can get a lot of impact from a little reading!

Quintessential Thought

Are you leading with direction or leading with intent? What’s the difference?

Leading with direction: high alignment and low autonomy. “Do it this way.”

Leading with intent: high alignment and high autonomy. “Here is our goal. Figure out how.”

Many leaders think the first is the only successful way to lead. However, in a complex environment (where more in unknown than known), setting the how can be dangerous. Why? There may be other options that weren’t considered by you. There may be risks you didn’t think of. And, it builds a habit of you always being the one with answers, which is a good recipe for burnout.

The secret to leading with intent: give goals with one more level of abstraction than you have in the past. Have people meet you with their intent on how they’re going to solve the goal.

After this habit is formed, you’ll be getting better, more creative solutions than you ever have before.


“I don’t care how smart you are. On my submarine, we have 135 thinking, passionate, creative, proactive, taking initiative people.” David Marquet

"Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity."
Gen. George S. Patton

"No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it." 
Andrew Carnegie

"If you want your people to think don't give instructions, give intent." 
David Marquet

Quick Step

Next time you set a goal, give just slightly less guidance than you have previously and involve options from your team. Repeat.


What is delivering the how costing you currently?

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