Without clear direction, it’s nearly impossible to motivate, accelerate, innovate or even celebrate.
Your team can’t achieve breakthrough results if you don’t have a shared understanding of what success looks like. Creating clarity is one of the most important competencies we teach in our human-centered leadership development programs.
So today, we’ve pulled together some of our foundational clarity tools and techniques to give you four practical, strategic activities you can do with your team right away.
If creating clarity is a challenge for you, we encourage you to use these strategic activities in the order we offer them here.
Or, if there is one aspect of creating clarity that is the biggest challenge for you, start there.
Creating clarity means that everyone on your team has a solid, shared understanding of what success looks like.
They know what matters most and why.
High-performing teams are not only clear on their strategic direction, but they also know the short and long-term strategic initiatives that will help them get there.
They’ve also spent time identifying the strategic behaviors that lead to success.
Here’s how you know if you have a solid foundation of clarity on your team.
- You have defined your 3-4 strategic M.I.T. (Most Important Thing) leadership priorities.
- Managers consistently communicate these M.I.T. priorities, and why they are important.
- Your team initiatives align with these strategic M.I.T. priorities.
- Employees know the behaviors that directly contribute to these M.I.T. priorities.
- You regularly track, report, and communicate our progress toward these M.I.T. priorities.
These come from our FREE strategic planning assessment which you can download here.
Why Creating Clarity is So Important
Creating clarity prevents your team from spinning their wheels and wasting time on less relevant tasks. If you’ve never heard Karin’s “guitar” story (below), it’s a great example of why clear expectations matter.
Creating clarity also means helping your team understand why their work matters and how it fits into the bigger picture.
Clarity is motivating because it helps people to see the bigger impact of their work.
Creating clarity helps accelerate performance because people focus their time and energy on what matters most.
Clarity leads to innovation because it helps team members feel more confident in speaking up and sharing their ideas.
And, creating clarity makes it easier to celebrate, because it’s easier to spot the win.
In this article, we’ve outlined four of our favorite, practical strategic activities for creating better clarity on your team.
- Communicate your M.I.T. Strategic Priorities five times, five different ways.
- Check for understanding.
- Identify the strategic activities and behaviors critical to success.
- Ask clarity-based courageous questions to gain deeper insights.
1. Communicate your strategic priorities five times, in five different ways.
Once you’ve identified your strategic priorities, it’s not enough to communicate them once. When creating clarity, you want to be like the drummer of a band. Keep the beat by constantly reinforcing your strategic priorities. In this leadership activity, we encourage you to communicate your MIT five times, five different ways.
Your first strategic leadership activity for creating clarity: (1) Pick one of your most important strategic priorities. (2) build a five-by-five communication plan. You can use the 5×5 Communication Planner to document your plan.
Communicate Your MIT leadership challenge resources
- Leadership Skills: 6 Competencies You Can’t Lead Without
- How to Stay Focused When Everything is Important (this can help if you need to define your MIT)
- 5 x 5 Communication Planner
- 101 Creative Ideas to include in your 5×5 Communication Plan
- Leadership Without Losing Your Soul Podcast How to Make Your Leadership Message Stick
2. Check for understanding. Does your team really understand what’s most important and why?
Once you’ve communicated your expectations, be sure your team gets it. Your next strategic leadership activity: check for understanding. Go ask each member of your team what success looks like for them this year.
Your second, strategic initiative for creating clarity: Have them tell you their strategic priorities and why they matter.
In your 5×5 communication plan, you were telling them. In this leadership activity, you check for understanding and hear it back from them.
Check for understanding resources
- Leadership Without Losing Your Soul Podcast: Calm the Chaos: Help Your Team Regain Their Focus
- Asking for a Friend (Article and Video): Check for Understanding a Leadership Communication Best Practice
3. Identify the strategic initiatives and behaviors that are critical to success.
Your third strategic activity for creating clarity is to use the MIT planner. Help your team identify the strategic initiatives and behaviors most critical to success. (Click on the planner to get the free tool).
Resources to help you align on strategic initiatives and behaviors
4. Ask clarity-based courageous questions to gain deeper insights.
Your final creating clarity activity is to ask your team a few courageous questions.
- What is the biggest obstacle jeopardizing our M.I.T?
- If you had an extra hour in the day, what could you do that would have the biggest impact on your results?
- What’s one task you wish you could eliminate that would give you more time to focus on your MIT?
We would love to hear from you.
What is your favorite technique for creating clarity?
Which of these creating clarity activities work best for you? Leave a comment, or drop us a note at [email protected]
Are you ready to establish a Courageous Culture of critical thinkers, problem solvers and customer advocates within your company? Visit our Strategic Leadership page to learn how Let’s Grow Leaders can help you build a Courageous Culture – with higher engagement and a results-oriented approach to innovation.