“We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior.”
Stephen Covey used this powerful quote when he taught about leadership and the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The quote speaks to the notion of judging others and determining the value of their actions and their intentions. The quote is simple, yet holds profound implications for leaders and how they interact with and lead their organizations.
What it really gets to the heart of is trust. As leaders, we always have the eyes of our organization looking at us. For educators, that can be a grade level or team, a campus, a department, or the district itself. It’s imperative that leaders understand they have align their intentions with their actions. If actions run counter to intentions, those who follow the leader will develop their own interpretation of the intent of the actions the leader displays.
Leaders would do well to remember two things with regard to this idea of judging behavior and intent:
- Be aware of one’s own bias in judging the behaviors of others and what might be the intent of that individual’s choices. A deeper conversation with that individual just might bring better clarity as to why that person does what he/she does.
- Be aware of one’s own bias to assess one’s own actions through a “softer” intention-focused lens. Individuals can tend to allow themselves more slack or forgiveness because of their noble intentions but that doesn’t excuse poor choices or misaligned actions on the leader’s part.