There are BIG changes happening in how most businesses are operating right now and it is more important than ever to lead with clarity. In the past year, employees have shifted from fully-in-the-office to fully-at-home. Now, most workers are in some sort of hybrid situation that will likely change again and again before it settles into some sort of new normal.
A year ago, as COVID was just hitting the United States, we asked you to sit down and answer some questions. How do you want to feel at the end of this? What do you want (and want others) to be able to say about the way you behaved as a leader?
Here what you told us you wanted to be:
- Consistent and steady
- Aware of and responsive to the unique needs of employees
Every one of these desires rely on clear communication and consistent leadership.
So, what does it take to lead with clarity?
In college, I learned the “Rule of 7”. It was the idea that a person needed to hear/see/experience something seven times in order to remember/believe/buy. Nowadays, in the midst of so much noise, marketing experts tell us the number is much higher.
What does that have to do with leading and communicating in the business world? Frankly, it’s not much different. Think of each person that reports to you. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of messages flying at us each day —email, Slack, direct message, social media, webinars, meetings, conversations and more. It is really tough to break through the noise and distractions so that what you say will be the thing that they truly hear, learn, and adopt as guiding principle.
Being louder and saying it more often just isn’t cutting it. To lead with clarity, communicating clearly must become your superpower. It needs to be the cornerstone of every project, relationship, and idea you have.
The good news – it’s easy to apply
Leading with Clarity requires that you answer three core questions:
1. Where are we going?
2. Why does it matter?
3. What is my role?
Where are we going?
What’s the vision? This needs to be stated as simply as possible. Being wishy-washy about it just confuses and frustrates people.
- We will be accessing the needs and desires of our employees and our return to work plans over the next 90 days.
Why does it matter?
If there is no clear reason why something is happening, employees will fill in the blanks themselves. In this case, they may believe it is a waste of time and money.
- We want to effectively manage the concerns of our employees at this time, while also paying attention to what our business really needs, what our clients need and create a phased transition plan that may result in a hybrid work place for our employees.
What is my role?
If an employee understands that their role is important, they are more likely to work with you to find an agreeable path forward, even if they don’t agree with the decision. Be clear and honest about their role.
- Your role is crucial to informing our future plans. Please pay attention to what your team is saying about their own needs and desires in how they work, where they work and how they can best contribute. Listen to what they are saying and what they are not saying. Ask open ended questions to best understand how we can both meet their needs and the needs and demands of our core work. Encourage your team to complete the surveys we send out to gather the data and make informed decisions.
But, does it work?
Yes, it sure does. Of course, sprinkling in empathy, the right information, and a good listening ear will get even further as an effective leader!
To lead with clarity, it must be intentional. The next time you need to share information with someone, take some time to answer the three core questions. Go into the conversation with the intent to be clear. Don’t add unnecessary and confusing information to an already noisy world.
Keep it simple and clear!
How can we help?
We have created a Leading with Clarity tool to help leaders and teams use a simple framework to cut through the clutter and communicate simply and clearly. This tool is so foundational for leaders that we have included it in our new Leadership Essentials Toolkit and have embedded it into many of our programs and workshops we lead for our clients. If this piques your interest – let’s talk! We’d love to help you and your team communicate more effectively & clearly!