Do you get frustrated because your team doesn’t produce what you’ve asked for?
Are team meetings tortuous occasions where you end up trying to understand why problems have still not been resolved?
Have you found yourself having to spend too much time correcting or revising your team´s work?
Does your own manager misinterpret what you are trying to achieve and remain unconvinced about the strategy you want to adopt on an issue?
It’s possible that you could have a poor-performing team that consistently produces sloppy work, or senior managers who are stuck in their ways or hard to win over.
Or, there´s another possibility which is that you need to focus on clarity as a leader and strive to get this down to a fine art.
Getting anything down to a fine art takes lots of dedication and practice. But it´s worth your effort and commitment to try. The more clarity you can lead with the more your colleagues will comprehend what you want to achieve, why and the reason their contribution is so important.
Some of the benefits of proactively trying to be a leader that demonstrates crystal clear clarity are:
- You will have a team that will be on board and more willing to follow you.
- You will feel more confident that you and your message are being heard.
- You´ll increase the chances that your senior managers will at least have understood why you´ve adopted a particular approach, even if they don´t agree with it or have doubts.
- You´ll be able to evolve into a leader that spends more time focused on clarity of strategy, clarity of strategy and of tactics, instead of getting lost in the weeds of what your team is doing.
You shouldn’t assume your team always understand you
A major reason for team ineffectiveness on a project or activity is when a leader doesn´t take the time to ensure their message, instructions, goals or the context of why they want their team to do something are clearly explained.
Why is this the case?
Well, it is very hard work for a start. Clarity requires deep thinking and focus. There must be sufficient reflection, questioning and some critical thinking. That takes energy.
It also uses up the resource that is most precious to leaders – the scarcity of time. In high pressured environments and busy offices – physical or virtual – time is always at a premium.
Despite this, if you have the privilege of being in a formal leadership position, it is up to you to try and be a leader that exemplifies clarity, not just a manager that gives instructions.
Asking or even ordering someone in your team to do something doesn’t necessarily mean they get it.
There are everyday signs that give you a clue that you are not being a leader exemplifying clarity. These clues are invitations for you to pause, reflect and reorganise your own thinking.
Teams will have a look of confusion. They may say they don´t know what they are meant to be doing. Their eyes narrow, there´s a frown on their faces and their foreheads scrunch because inside they are trying to work through the confusion of what you´ve just said. They wonder what is the point of what you have asked them to do.
Teams want to do well and do a great job
I think most teams are very willing to put in the work, even to bust a gut and go the extra mile, if the reasons why are clear enough. However, even a high-performing team can be less than effective on occasion, not because they are inconsistent, but because their leader´s message, vision and thinking is opaque or a complicated riddle.
It´s your responsibility as a leader to try and minimise frustrations that may be getting in the way of your team delivering to a higher standard.
If you can become a lot clearer as a leader you make it more likely that you’ll have a team that´s motivated by the clarity of your vision, because they have a glimpse of where you want to take them and a sense of a common goal.
A team that gets on the with job enthusiastically because they understand the benefits for of their contribution and can get a sense of the big picture.
A team that feels they are making good use of their talents, skills and time because the right priorities have been identified and delegated.
When I studied to be a qualified English teacher the trainers often told us not to automatically believe a student if they said they understood a grammar point. We had to check they did with simple but well-designed questions. It was only possible to ask the right questions if we had carried out the thinking needed to make sure we understood the language point ourselves and as part of the whole topic of the class.
As a leader you may well be technically brilliant, a superstar entrepreneur or an insightful senior executive. But if you can´t relate your ideas and thinking to your team, that´s a big problem and obstacle to success and a motivated team.
Clarity can help you as a leader to engage well and relate better to the people you serve.
Real clarity requires effort but brings many dividends in terms of your own performance, team performance, motivation and success.
It involves taking the time to work out the vision that attracts people and enthuses them because it’s compelling, due to the fact it´s also clear.
Leadership clarity includes the deep reflection and analysis needed to produce a solid strategy that provides direction and the nuts and bolts of a plan that will lead to consistent progress.
As a leader to practice clarity you´ll need to identify the gaps in your thinking and know-how to tackle the issues that are likely to lead to question marks in the mind of your team.
Try to minimise vague ideas and language and know what unnecessary and irrelevant details to leave out of conversations as these will just confuse your team.
It also means trying to be clear about the type of leader you want to be and how you can help others step up into formal or informal leadership.
This is all much more intensive than just saying to a team member ‘Can you do x,y,z by tomorrow?” and expecting it to be completed to a high standard.
If you are a manager or aspiring to be one, how will you go the extra mile to develop into a leader who demonstrates clarity?
If you want to carry on the conversation, do reach out to me and I´ll be delighted to discuss this important leadership behaviour with you. I´m genuinely fascinated by it because it´s an essential element of effective leadership. Also, do leave your thoughts and comments on some of the challenges or obstacles you think exist to being a leader that is really clear.
If you ever feel that you want to level up your ability as a leader or there´s a need for your organisation to reflect on leadership in more depth, consider:
- Working with me via a formal one-to-one leadership coaching programme to help you with your strategic thinking and practice positive leadership.
- A workshop that will challenge your team, equip them with tools and help create the foundation for a common leadership culture.
- Getting in contact to discuss a keynote speech or presentation at an upcoming awayday or social event.
All information can be read here.
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