I remember learning about clarity as a child, and it was very real for me. Whether I was helping my father develop pictures in a chemical bath or watching a Polaroid picture come into focus, I saw clarity unfold before my eyes. Today I associate clarity with leadership – it’s an essential quality. Leaders need not only to see clearly, but also to communicate what they see, why it’s important, and how to proceed. Keep in mind leaders emerge from all levels of an organization, not just from the C-Suite. Here’s Team Trek's definition of a leader. Note that the definition has two parts – and both require clarity.
A leader is a person who knows the direction s/he wants to go and can influence the heads, hands, and hearts of others to follow.
Importance of clarity in Knowing Where to Go
To begin with, leaders need to be fully aware of their current circumstances, whether good or bad. In “Good To Great,” Jim Collins refers to this as confronting the brutal facts, but never losing faith in a bright future. In order to see that bright future, leaders need imagination, an ability to envision, see potential, and create in their minds what they can’t yet see with their eyes. Once they have clarity on where they’re headed, successful leaders create a “destination postcard,” a vivid snapshot for people to see and feel. And finally, leaders may need complementary partners who can bring their vision to life. These partners articulate the goals, strategies, and action steps needed to arrive at the desired destination.
Importance of clarity in Influencing People to Follow
In our work we have the privilege of coaching many leaders who are recent internal promotes or outside hires. During their first 90-days, we urge these new leaders to listen respectfully to others, attend to their needs, and respect their hopes and dreams. It requires empathy, their “social radar,” to understand how others feel and think, even when it’s not explicitly said. Effective leaders are able to show openness to and respect for others who are different or have different points of view. Once they listen to understand, leaders are better able to connect. They can tap into the hopes, dreams, and motivations of others and communicate an image of the future that motivates and draws people in. Leaders who have clarity are also able to see potential in others and encourage their personal and professional development.
Importance of clarity in Setting Expectations
We see a lot of otherwise gifted and talented leaders struggle when it comes to setting clear performance standards and expectations. First, leaders need clarity in their own mind about expectations. Next, they need clarity in the way they articulate performance standards. Finally, they need clarity in communicating their expectations. There is a huge potential upside if done timely and effectively…and an even bigger consequence if done poorly or not at all – loss of trust.
Team Trek is a world-class provider of leadership training, team building, coaching and culture programs. Go to www.teamtrek.com/subscribe to receive the next Journal in your inbox.