The Word of the Year for 2021 Is “Intentional”

July 15, 2021
July 15, 2021 Jamie Notter

This has been coming up over and over again in my conversations with clients and other leaders in the last few weeks: how we run our organizations effectively now requires a level of intentionality that wasn’t there before.

Thinking about asking everyone to return to the office after Labor Day? You’d better be intentional about who really needs to come back and what activities they should be doing at the office, rather than at home. We used to just take for granted that everyone goes to the office to work, but now we must be intentional about workspace.

Noticing a rise in team dysfunction and conflict? You’d better be intentional about how your teams operate in this new environment (particularly senior teams); what teams need from each other (and what your direct reports need from your team) is not necessarily what it used to be. Team meetings and interactions settle into a “default” mode that isn’t working, and we need to be more intentional about how our teams work.

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Are your people sliding back into doing what they already knew how to do? You’d better be intentional about where your business model has changed permanently and what that will require from staff who, deep down, want their 2019 job back. The path forward simply will not look like the path that got us here, so we need to be intentional about strategy and execution.

Is your leadership game at the level that will get you through all this? You’d better be intentional about the mindset that you as an individual leader will need to embrace in order to grow, rather than slip back, in today’s environment. We used to see leadership as delivering on our collective promises, but today I think we need to be more intentionally focused on growth.

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I think level of intentionality will be a key factor that distinguishes the organizations that will thrive moving forward from the ones that will continue to struggle. And the time to start being more intentional is now.


Photo by Kristin Charleton

Jamie Notter

Jamie is an author and growth strategist at PROPEL, where he helps leaders integrate culture, strategy, and execution to achieve breakthrough performance and impact. He brings twenty-five years of experience to his work designing culture-driven businesses, and has specialized along the way in areas like conflict resolution and generations. Jamie is also the co-author of three books—Humanize, When Millennials Take Over, and The Non-Obvious Guide to Employee Engagement—and holds a Master’s in conflict resolution from George Mason and a certificate in Organization Development from Georgetown, where he serves as adjunct faculty.
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