One of the biggest challenges this spring is to understand your role as a leader and as a manager when it comes to creating clarity. First, we need to recognize that role clarity helps in creating message clarity. The more we know what is expected of us and where we fit into the organization the better we are at communicating and creating clarity. And as I have pointed out recently in this blog, your message will have to deal with our fears and our needs.
One key element about a successful message to the organization is that it has an image we can envision or a phrase that we can utilize in multiple settings. The best messages have both. For example Danny Meyer’s wonderful phrase, “constant gentle pressure” and his image of “putting the salt shaker back in the center of the table” is a classic example of a great message and a great image. But it would not work if the people utilizing it did not know their role in the organization.
Next, we as leaders need to define what clarity means to us. Here are three quick questions to help you think about this subject:
- Does clarity mean that employees only do what you tell them to do?
- Does clarity mean that employees need to live up to your expectations?
- Does clarity mean we all collaborate together based on a common understanding about the purpose and strategy of the company?
While we may not like the questions, we need to reflect on our answers because too many times as a consultant and an executive coach, I have listened to people talk to me about creating organizational clarity and I have realized that all they really want is for people to do what they tell them to do. This barely ever works, and when it does, it does not work very well for very long.
So after writing about the prerequisites for creating organizational clarity, here is a summary of the four key prerequisites for creating organizational clarity:
- A leadership team who role models candor and strategic level trust, and who recognizes that having organizational clarity is a competitive advantage.
- A performance management system and a talent management philosophy and system based on accountability and results as well as the values and behaviors behind those results.
- An explicit definition and articulation of organizational core values or principles, and strategy.
- An investment in continuous learning and improvement to build and continuously update the capacity within the organization to be more effective and in sync with the changing world.
Creating organizational clarity is not a one time show. It needs to happen each and every day. And leaders and managers at all levels of the organization must role model it and focus on it. When this happens, clarity has the potential to be a very powerful flywheel for innovation and effective service delivery.