Organizations grow stronger and more effective when leaders not only work well together but clarify present reality and future expectations.
Once an organization has a strong functional team (board, staff, etc.), they need to practice the discipline of clarity to ultimately get where you want to go. To gain clarity by going through a process of asking the right questions and having the right conversations.
One of the greatest causes of frustration in an organization is confusion caused by leaders who fail to pull in the same direction. When leaders are “involved in misalignment,” clarity is missing.
“Just a little daylight between members of a leadership team becomes blinding and overwhelming one or two levels below” (Patrick Lencioni).
Clarity is achieved by finding agreement after going through a process of answering six simple but critical questions. The questions serve as a pathway for guiding your conversations and help you to focus on all the aspects of organizational health and effectiveness.
Six questions that create clarity*
- Why do we exist? (this question looks at your reason for existence and core purpose)
- How do we behave? (this question looks at your core values and key behaviors)
- What do we do? (this question provides you with a list of what you actually do – your activities)
- How will we succeed? (this question looks at your strategy or plan for success)
- What is most important, right now? (this question has you look at your top priorities)
- Who must do what? (this question helps you answer the “who will do what by when” challenge)
In order these questions to work, you need certain conditions. You need cohesion among key leaders. You need to avoid impressive-sounding or borrowed statements. You also need enough time set aside to allow the conversations to develop into something meaningful.
One more insight to keep in mind when traveling the clarity road. Avoid waiting until you have it perfect before proceeding. Some organizations become paralyzed by the planning process and never implement the plan because they are waiting to get it just right. Wisdom says “a plan is better than no plan.” While waiting to get it right, confusion reigns, leaders lose credibility, and the organization suffers.
“A good plan violently executed today is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” — General Patton
If you put a “good enough” plan into action you can always adjust it as you go. When it’s all said and done, too many times, “more is said than done!”
A Final Word
No one said creating clarity was easy but it is a process that has the potential of paying big dividends for years to come. It’s a practical application of the leadership task that healthy organizations are entrusted with.
*For more detail and an in depth look at these six questions, see Patrick Lencioni’s book “The Advantage.”