Leading With Intention

Today, just like Robert Caro, you have a unique opportunity to write your paragraph and story for your life's work.

Robert Caro is a renowned journalist and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. He has written six books over his career, one on Robert Moses called The Power Broker. Another titled Working which gives the reader a glimpse into his own life and writing process. The remaining four books were on US President Lyndon B. Johnson. His seventh and final book on LBJ is due to come out next year. Caro spends years upon years researching and drafting. Before Caro writes a book, he formulates a paragraph of precisely what the story of the book will communicate. Robert Caro labors over this step in his creative process until he believes the statement accurately describes the path of the overall book project. This initial step sets the course and tone for his writing. When Caro arrives each morning at his office in the Fisk Building in Midtown Manhattan, he sits down at his desk and will re-read the paragraph. The re-reading ensures he does not stray away from the essence of the book, which serves as a constant reminder every day. Each of us can adopt a similar process for our lives. 

In a Harvard Business Review survey of more than 19,000 respondents, researchers found that people felt better and performed more effectively at work when four basic needs were met: 

  1. Renewal (Physical)

  2. Value (Emotional)

  3. Focus (Mental)

  4. Purpose (Spiritual)

Harvard Business Review just did for us, what Robert Caro does before each book. They have given us the four areas we as leaders, coaches, and teachers must intently focus on each day. As part of our daily routines and habits, we need to make sure we are investing time and energy into mastering these four areas. Each plays a vital role in how we lead and inspire others.  

RENEWAL. The renewal comes only from having authentic leadership. Being who you are every single day without pretense. When Frank Sinatra wore a leisure suit, he did not look like Sinatra. The sound may have been the same, but to his loyal followers, he was not being genuine. They could not renew their faith to follow. 

EMOTIONAL. When a leader connects emotionally with their team, they build a safe zone and environment for learning to take place mutually. This act allows for emotional trust to develop, and for individuals to have more than a paycheck at stake. They are empowered to have a personalized dedication to the larger overall team goal. 

FOCUS. American writer Walter Lippmann once said: "The way in which the world is imagined determines at any particular moment what people will do." You win over the minds of those you lead by demonstrating you can make them better. In return, you will receive focus and production. Self-mastery that transfers to others generates tremendous "buy-in" and "stay-in."

PURPOSE. When we wake up in the morning, we need a reason to believe, to push forward, and to overcome obstacles. Faith in leadership is the most significant faith any organization can create. The belief in the culture, the leaders, and the team allows people to have a purpose that goes beyond one's job title. 

Today, just like Robert Caro, you have a unique opportunity to write your paragraph and story for your life's work. May you move enthusiastically from where you are now, to where you want to be as a leader, coach, teacher, and positive difference-maker. 

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