Making clarity is a key responsibility of leadership.
Stephen is a Senior Executive who was used to taking three weeks to make decisions, slowing down the productivity of his department, and frustrating the team as they worked hard to get the job done. In our very early mentoring sessions, we discussed how he made the decisions and at what point he was “fairly sure” of the right way forward. The answer? Within 24-72 hours of the initial matter being raised and him having enough time to be clear on what he believed was the best way forward. Three days after having a good idea of knowing what to do extended into twenty-one days of checking and re-checking what they already knew to be true. We focused our work on shortening the ‘verification gap’ and being confident that what they knew at day three changed very little at day twelve, seventeen and twenty-one.
What became important was to make the decision at the point of clarity, not the point of certainty. Today, Stephen is able to make confident decisions in significantly less time than before, and make them with conviction and agility. His ability to make clarity and serve his team, department, and organisation in a way that creates noticeable productivity and momentum.
To make clarity you need four essential ingredients:
- Wisdom – Having an understanding into your situation that empowers you.
- Feedback – Being humble and disciplined enough to learn personal formation lessons.
- Perspective – Having a high enough view of what’s happening now and what needs to happen next.
- Opportunity – The disciplined consideration of the options you have before you.
Leaders look for the people in their care who lack clarity and see them facing the following four problems:
- People stuck in drama.
- People stuck in overwhelm.
- People stuck in procrastination.
- People stuck in busy.
The model below shows the process from the inside (stuck) to the response (action) and then what you can expect (outcome):
Let’s be clear, while you are doing your engineering calculations on that bridge, please do whatever it takes to be exact. We all appreciate it. When you are making those accounting decisions, focus on making that bottom right hand corner correct to the cent. And if today is your brain surgery day may you have the steadiest hand known to humankind. I get it. There are times, places and moments to be exact. Do so with excellence. The rest of the time focus on making clarity so that the next step is clear, easy to do and adds massive value to the mission.
The art is leading people to a place where they take responsibility for the situation and look to be on the solution side of any problems they are facing. A good way forward would include these disciplines:
- Replace drama with personal reflection.
- Challenge overwhelms with purposeful space and margin.
- Confront procrastination with prioritised tasks.
- Push back on busy with purposeful space and intentionality.
The power of clarity is the ability to make measurable progress in reasonable time (Thanks Jim Rohn).
Making clarity is a key job of the leader. Make yours well.
This is for leaders. I am for leaders.