Clarity in Leadership: The Key to Effective Management

    Clarity in Leadership: Illuminating the Path to Effective Management

    We’ve all walked away from conversations with our bosses with a sense of I think I know what they mean, but I’m not entirely sure. That uncertainty eats away at you. We all know how it feels when weeks down the line, you find out that not only were you not on the same page as you thought, but you were reading different books entirely!

    Clarity in leadership can be defined as: A shared understanding of crystal-clear expectations to achieve collective goals. It’s crystal-clear answers to….

    What are we doing?

    Why are we doing it?

    When do we need to get it done by?

    Who needs to be involved?

    Without clarity in leadership, and the answers to these 4 W’s, even the brightest of high-potential teams will unravel.

    It's all about CARE-ing for others: Clarity, Autonomy, Relationships and Equity. My new book - CARE to Win: The Four Leadership Habits to Build High-Performing Teams - delves deeply into the effective leadership skills needed to unlock high performance and become a culture champion. 

    Let's talk about the C for Clarity of CARE. 


    The Cornerstone of Effective Leadership: Why Clarity Matters

    Humans have craved clarity since our species’ origin because we need it to survive. Are those berries safe to eat? Who’s on tiger watch tonight? Even with smartphones and lattes in hand, our brains are still survival machines. They still see any uncertainty and ambiguity as a threat.

    When leadership clarity is missing, our brains fill in the blanks with fear. Fear leads to the dark side. We get frustrated even for five minutes, and our body produces so much cortisol that it saps power from the decision-making part of the brain. We can’t function at our optimal level for up to five hours afterwards. We don’t feel safe to be our natural selves or speak up. We’re scared of looking stupid or suffering consequences.

    Silence kills business. Silence kills leadership. Silence kills relationships. 

    Communication inefficiencies consume an average of 13% of an employee’s day globally (Mitel). What if that’s happening all week? What if the company is facing a crisis? You need high-performing, coordinated, all-hands-on-deck action. Leadership clarity can be the difference between a company thriving and going under.

    86% of employees blame lack of good communication for workplace failures (Forbes). Our brain is an assumption-making machine. But assumptions are the kryptonite of higher performance. They lead to duplication of efforts, re-work, lack of alignment and direction, stress, and blaming each other. Without clarity in leadership, you end up having to steal autonomy and do things yourself, and you’ll have no energy or time for building relationships.

    Clarity in leadership from the get-go creates cognitive ease. The fear dissipates, and our brains can work at a higher level. Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. Clear leadership creates a two-way communication loop – constantly checking to make sure messages have been received, seeking and acknowledging feedback, and incorporating it to refine or reshape messages. With clear leadership, everyone is on the same line of the same page – and in the same book!

    Drawing from Experience: The Inspiration Behind Clarity

    Simon Sinek’s book,Start with Why, asserts that if you want to be an inspirational leader, you must start by identifying your purpose, cause, or vision. Only when the team has clarity can you move outward to the “How” and then to the “What”.

    In the book, I’ve shared specific experiences and anecdotes, my ‘Alexamples’, that inspired the inclusion of clarity in CARE. Including one of my worst leadership communication blunders.

    A team member of mine made a bad decision that cost the business $30,000. I had assumed everyone knew the process for high-value decisions because to me, it seemed logical. I assumed the email I’d sent months ago registered with everyone.

    Assuming was the problem, and because the team hadn’t gone through these 4 questions together, because I hadn’t provided clarity or CAREd for my team, this learning cost $30,000.

    Clarity’s Impact on Psychological Safety and Team Dynamics

    We need our teams to speak up about what is working for them about our leadership communication and performance, so we can do more of it. We need our teams to speak up about what is not working for them, so we can do less of it. We do this by getting on top of cognitive biases to create clarity in leadership. My book goes into this in detail!

    Meaningful back-and-forth, two-way communication creates psychological safety. People will feel safe to speak up, be their true selves, be honest, make mistakes, and brainstorm without fear of being penalized, ridiculed, or rejected. They know they will be listened to and are valued for voicing their wants and needs.

    Psychological safety in leadership leads to lower workplace stress, increased job satisfaction, and better results. When their threat circuitry isn’t triggered, they’ll ask for more clarity, for even better alignment.

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    Reflecting on the Journey: Clarity in My Leadership Role

    I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve lost good people. It’s why I wrote this book. Because I turned the ship around by CAREing for each person, every day.

    Higher-performing teams need higher-performing leaders who give their teams the clarity they need to thrive. Higher-performing leaders need higher-performing teams who ask their leaders to give them the clarity they need to thrive. It’s a two-way street.

    Slow down, be curious. Stop assuming, start asking. Give clarity in leadership. Put people’s brains at cognitive ease and build that psychological safety so people feel comfortable speaking up. When you implement the CARE Equation intentionally and consistently, you’ll see it in engagement scores, retention rates, and the happy faces of people around you.

    Discover the power of clarity in Leadership in my upcoming book. Pre-order now to start transforming your leadership approach with clarity.



    What does clarity in leadership entail?

    It means providing crystal-clear answers to the four W’s – What, Why, When, Who – so everyone understands the collective goals, direction, and expectations, and can do their best work. Any variance in the answers between leaders and team members leads to performance issues. The challenge is to ger over the silence or “yes we get it” (but they don’t) problem.

    How does clarity contribute to a team's psychological safety?

    Clarity fosters psychological safety by creating certainty and reducing fear. In a safe space, people feel comfortable speaking up, making mistakes, and brainstorming without fear of judgment or repercussion. When they speak up, leaders better understand what’s working and what’s not, so they can do more or less of it.

    Why does clarity significantly impact leadership effectiveness?

    When leaders create a psychologically safe environment and give teams the clarity they need to thrive, those teams not only perform at their best, resulting in higher engagement, productivity, and business growth – they also feel safe to ask their leaders for exactly what they need to continue developing as high-performers, enhancing decision-making.

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