Perhaps the most important competency for a leader to possess is that of clarity. Clarity is a clearness, lucidity, and simplicity as to perception or understanding — a freedom from indistinctness or ambiguity. Organizational clarity is the single most important strategic advantage the organization can have. Initiated in strategy, embodied by leadership, and delivered by teams, clarity provides the foundation for how high-performing teams collaborate to achieve extraordinary results.
Clarity is always essential, but it is a pre-requisite for survival when the business climate is chaotic and confusing. In fact, the more chaotic the environment, the more clarity is needed. The main function of a leader then is to provide clarity around six basic questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how.
An absence of clarity on these questions will result in confusion about expectations and creates mistrust. It impacts results and influences the speed at which an organization can move.
It is important to point out that clarity encompasses a variety of communication. What we are addressing here is strategic clarity, particularly as it relates to an organization. Strategic Clarity is clarity around where the organization is headed and why it is heading there. Many leaders and their direct reports assume they are on the same page with their peers, but once they get in a room together and openly discuss core strategies around such things as mission and values, we often find this is not the case. A lack of alignment and clarity is the most common problem we run into with our clients.
This level of organizational clarity is available to those few leaders who have developed both the tools and the talents for getting clear about their business, their people, and their environment. This type of clarity is sort of an uber situational awareness.
This is the main responsibility of the leader — provide clarity as to where the organization is going and then influence the head, hands, and hearts of others to follow.
Organizational Clarity is an important component of the principles we teach at Team Trek: you prepare to win or lose the war before the first battle ever takes place. To win the war three main parts of an overall strategy must be in place.
First, there must be a clear and simple mission, communicating the outcomes expected. This answers the questions of where, when and why.
Second, there must be clarity regarding the competency and character of the people participating in the battle. This addresses the question of the right people on the bus and in the right seats.
Finally there must be clarity about the culture of the organization. This addresses the question of values, principles, and norms. This means having clear expectations for how team members work together to accomplish the mission.
Organizational clarity is crucial because it forms the foundation for influence and empowerment. Without clarity in the three areas above, there is no influence and no real opportunity for empowerment.
The days of strict hierarchy and decisions being handed down from on high are over. The environment in which we must function is simply changing and moving at such a speed that there is not time for excessive contemplation and waiting. What is needed is organizational agility, a subject we have covered in a previous Journal. Agility can be created through a strategy of having a clear and simple mission, creating a workforce of people of character and competence, and building a culture of shared values and norms.
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