The best gift a leader can provide his or her team is … clarity. Team members inherently want to do a good job. They want their efforts and work to matter. They deserve direction in turbulent seasons. Clarity of mission and expectations provides the tracks for the team members to move forward in the work.
Clarity begins in the mind of the leader and is communicated through the leader’s relationships with his or her team members. A mist in the pulpit will create a fog in the pews. The reason clarity is nonexistent for team members is from lack of clarity in the mind of the leader or for lack of communication from the leader.
In Alice in Wonderland, Alice and the Cheshire Cat are having a conversation. “Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”
Leading a team is similar. Without clarity of what you are doing, it did not matter how you approach the work. Activity gets confused for productivity or progress.
Here are a few principals about providing clarity for your team:
- Clarity provides incentives for team members to give their best effort because they can understand the what and the why of their work. Clarity provides the opportunity for shared commitment to the mission.
- Clarity in the midst of uncertainty is the best path forward. Clarity provides the handles to grab hold of in difficult times.
- Clarity pushes the leader to keep growing.
- Clarity pushes the leader to invest in personal relationships with team members. I want to lead well. I want my team members to win in their work. This means I must have the relationships with team members beyond just sharing office space.
- Clarity helps team members know better how to allocate their time and energy.
- Clarity creates healthy accountability for team members. Good team members want to be accountable to a clear plan because it validates their work. There is plenty of room for individual team members to bring their personality and gifts to bare on the work. Clarity gives them wisdom and freedom to work well.
It is not enough for a leader to simply empower team members to do their work. Leaders must be willing and able to inspire as they empower. Otherwise, the result may likely be more sideways energy than forward progress.
Regardless of the size of your organization, there are finite resources (ie, people, time, money, materials). Clarity of where the organization is going and what the desired result is to be allows for a good stewardship of the resources.
Leaders must push past the comfort zone. Leaders must take the time to be clear in their own mind of the goal in order to faithfully inspire the team. Leaders owe it to themselves, not just their teams, to get clarity on the mission, vision, values and strategy.
Give yourself and your team the gift of clarity. It may very well be the difference between surviving and thriving.