Leadership excellence: How to use clarity to cut confusion

Clarity is one of the top characteristics of leaders who excel.

These are the leaders about whom inspiring stories are told for years, long after they’ve led their organizations through extreme circumstances or uncertainty, and met great challenges honorably.

Why is leadership clarity so important? It’s because people can’t follow what they don’t understand.

And because circumstances are constantly changing, ensuring clarity, as a leader, is a never-ending job.

Think of leadership clarity this way. Trying to follow a person who’s not clear about where he or she is leading a group is like trying to follow someone while driving in thick fog.

People on a team, in such a case, don’t know where the road is, or if there’s one at all. They don’t know where the dangers are, or how to handle them. They don’t know if, in that fog, they’re still traveling as a team, or eventually, on their own.

Teams immersed in uncertainty proceed nervously, slowly, trying to move as safely as they can. Or, metaphorically speaking, they may pull over to the side of the road, waiting for the fog to lift, the way to become clear, safety to be ensured.

In the meantime, time and opportunities are lost. Costs increase. Profits fall. Team cohesion falls apart.

Being clear, as a leader, may sound easy to achieve. It’s not.

It requires clear thinking in every circumstance – when the best way forward is apparent, as well as when the best path is not yet known and must be created, as you and the team move forward.

To reach this level of clarity, a leader and his or her team need good information, effective collaboration, clear and effective processes for prioritizing and decision-making. They also need a strong and accurate sense of who their customers are, and what those customers need and want.

Great leaders build strong organizations, which may include many people.

The work of everyone involved must be integrated and coordinated in some way. That may be done loosely, organically, or it may be accomplished in much more formal, structured ways.

The net effect, however it’s done, is that with the right direction, information, and other signposts along the way, individual employees can make the right decisions and choose the right actions in their daily flow of their work to create progress on shared company goals.

Combined with the other top characteristics of great leaders, leadership clarity turns good intentions, and precious limited resources into the best results possible for customers, and all company stakeholders.

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