You answered your own question -- indeed, it is intent that leads to growth, not action. Why? Because any action can be taken for multiple reasons -- i.e., multiple motivations or multiple intents.
For example, one may do good works (be helpful to others) for reasons of ego -- guilt, self-righteousness, out of obligation, being afraid not to, want to look good in others eyes, because they think it is required or expected or they believe it is a way to earn a reward they wish to claim (heaven, lower entropy, money, gratitude, the appreciation and praise of others, etc.). These are all about the doer -- what the doer gets for doing good works, and thus are ego based. Such good works motivated by the intent of ego create no personal growth, however helpful they may be. Doing anything motivated by love, by caring for another (all about the other, not about the self) will reduce one's entropy no matter how small the act. Personal growth is not generated by action, but by intent. Personal growth may or may not follow good action but, when it does, it is not the action that pushes consciousness quality forward -- it is the intent behind the action.
As I said: "action is the expression of the present state of that being". Unfortunately, for many actions, that present state could be both one of love and caring or one of fear and ego — and the movie camera records identical actions. One may obey the law because one is afraid of being caught or because one's personal quality would require it whether there was a law or not. Same obedience, different motivations.
you hit the nail on the head. An excellent response and fine contribution to the discussion, thanks for jumping in.