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Creating Clarity: 5 Tips on Getting CLEAR

Creating Clarity: 5 Tips on Getting CLEAR

August 9, 2022
Lead Teams
Charles Hooper, MCC

When I was a Tenderfoot Boy Scout (aka novice, beginner, nerd, clueless, doofus), I signed up for Orienteering Merit Badge at Scout Camp. The idea is if you have the right tools like a map and compass, you can find your way out of any directionless situation.  

To apply what we were taught (not necessarily learned), we were given an Orientation Challenge. With various coordinates, our objective was to hike through an invisible path to find our way back to base camp. The memory of this still causes me anxiety.  

As I started the timed challenge, I instantly forgot the verbal instructions, panic set in and I got disoriented in the woods.

Maybe my leader assumed that he gave me clear instructions, but I missed them and got hopelessly lost. The map and compass were of no use to me because I was not clear on how to use them! Eventually, a loud whistle allowed me to find my leader who showed me the way back to base camp.

When Clarity is Lacking When Clarity is Present
Confusion Confidence
Frustration Fulfillment
Withdrawal Engagement
Low Morale High Morale
Conflict Harmony
Creating Clarity: 5 Tips on Getting CLEAR

The Importance of Creating Clarity

One of the top qualities of good leaders is the ability to create clarity.  

In the excellent book, Team Work, my friends and teammates Russ and Rusty challenge leaders to, “don’t wait for clarity; go get it. 

Creating clarity starts with seeking clarity from others, and that means taking initiative. Don’t wait for clarity; go get it. When you don’t know something, ask. If you are unsure about your role or what is expected, reach out and pursue the clarity you need. If no one knows the answer, help create it. Providing clarity means adjusting the way you communicate for the benefit of those around you. Remember, the goal is effective communication, not proving you’re right.

– Rusty Chadwick and Russ Sarratt, Team Work: 13 Timeless Principles for Creating Success and Fulfillment as a Team Member

Many leaders today are disoriented. I sure have been.  

Some of the common “in their own words” challenges leaders are experiencing related to clarity include: 

  1. I lack self-awareness about my leadership style.
  2. We need a strategic plan but don’t know what it should look like. 
  3. I am overwhelmed and juggling too many priorities. 
  4. I have been told that I need more leadership presence and confidence. 
  5. There is so much change happening, it is baffling.  
  6. We need more leaders but don’t have an intentional plan to develop them. 
  7. Delegating is too hard, it is easier to just do it myself but I am worn out. 

Clarity is the answer to anxiety. Effective leaders are clear.”
– Marcus Buckingham

Creating Clarity: 5 Tips on Getting CLEAR

How to Get CLEAR & Create Clarity

After talking to hundreds of leaders and helping them get clarity, here are some of the best practices I have collected through the years. These can be used by you as a leader to create clarity with those whom you lead.  

They are summarized under the acronym of “CLEAR.

C – Communicate 

  • Communicate the vision, mission, and values of the organization often. 
  • Communicate job descriptions in writing and verbally with employees. 
  • Communicate how a team member’s role contributes to the organization. 
  • Communicate the “why” behind the “what” and “how.” 
  • Communicate how much you appreciate team members’ unique gifts and contributions. 
  • Communicate authentically so trust is built.

L – Listen 

  • Listen longer than you normally would to hear more. 
  • Listen to their words and the meaning beneath the words. 
  • Listen for their intent, not just the words they use. 
  • Listen for their deep desires which is reflected in their joys and frustrations. 
  • Listen so you can reflect back to them what they said for their understanding. 

E – Expectations 

  • Your expectations need to be clear. 
  • Their expectations need to be discussed. 
  • The difference between expectations and reality creates confusion. 
  • Closing the gap in expectations will bring clarity. 
  • Help them find the balance along the scale of Idealism vs. Realism vs. Pessimism. 

A – Ask 

  • Ask questions to help the employee explore ideas and insights. 
  • Ask open questions which cause the brain to engage in finding a solution.  
  • Ask concise questions that are easy to understand. 
  • Avoid “why” questions to prevent a defensive response.  
  • Ask “what” questions to help them gain awareness. 
  • Ask “how” questions to help them choose actions.  
  • Ask what actions you both will commit to. 

R – Review 

  • Review what was discussed.
  • Review the actions. 
  • Review the learnings from the conversation. 
  • Review the positive progress they make as it happens. 
  • Review celebrations often with employees (not just during performance reviews). 
Creating Clarity: 5 Tips on Getting CLEAR

Create Clarity for Yourself & Your Team

A few years after that disorienting Orientation Merit Badge Challenge, I became an Eagle Scout who trained other scouts to find their way out of the wilderness with hope. Little did I realize how this experience would become a metaphor for leadership for the rest of my life. Now as an executive and leadership coach, my purpose is “accelerating leaders through complexity with clarity.

People long for clarity.  

Clarity brings hope. 

Hope-filled leaders are clear. 

You can create clarity for your team. 

Our hope at WinShape Teams is that you will have the clarity you need as a leader. Remember,don’t wait for clarity; go get it.

Once you have clarity, create clarity for your team with CLEAR.  

Keep on leading so you have a stronger, healthier, and more fulfilled team that changes the world around you!  

Creating Clarity: 5 Tips on Getting CLEAR

Discover more about creating clarity with the help of Team Work

Unlock your potential as a team member with thirteen timeless principles for creating success and fulfillment.