April 16


Don’t Let Your Intensity Hold You Back

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Melissa Lora, Taco Bell’s President of International business, and ask her: “What is one of the biggest factors that holds leaders back?” Her perspective was insightful and it will empower all of us to do better in how we lead and communicate.


Below is a summary and paraphrase of my interview with Melissa Lora:

Melissa Lora

What holds leaders back?
One of the biggest factors that holds leaders back is that they let their intensity get in their way.


How do you define intensity?
I define intensity as being so focused on your agenda that you are unaware or uninterested in how your presence is impacting others on the team.


How does intensity show up in business?
The most common way it shows up is in conversations and meetings. These leaders become so attached to the outcome they desire that they do not sit back and create space in meetings to activate other’s brilliance. Their energy heats up the room and everyone can feel it.


Why do you think this happens?
Sometimes it is because of ego and other times it is because of a lack of confidence. New leaders often become so focused on building influence quickly and getting results for the items that have visible accountability that they fail to engage the whole team in an innovative and open approach. When leaders do not take the broader context into consideration it is often because they do not have accountability for the bigger picture.


What is the consequence of intensity?
Intensity intimidates people out of their best thinking. It can erode influence and trust. Because they are so focused on “the pitch” that they are trying to make that they forget who is on their team and how collectively they may innovate to create a better outcome. As a result, everyone loses. Collaboration, creativity, innovation, and productivity are all sacrificed.


What can we do about it?
We need to help these leaders balance their intensity with emotional intelligence. That requires us to have open, authentic conversations built on mutual trust. We need to coach and remind every leader that they have a responsibility to play on a team and promote a broader context.


Melissa reminds us that leaders who leave a positive legacy take responsibility for their energy every day. They might not always get it right. And when they don’t, they slow down long enough to make it right. They use their personal power to inspire, take people with them, and hold others accountable in the process. In the end, these leaders build dynamic teams where everyone’s brilliance can be seen and heard.


Don’t let your intensity hold you back.



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