The post also appears on the GiANT Worldwide blog:
Organizational clarity begins with clear leadership and clear leadership begins with a clear, shared vision.
Vision is so difficult because most leaders prefer to deal with the data-driven world of organizational intelligence. The problem is, without strong organizational clarity, organizational intelligence is attenuated. Simply put without a clear organizational vision, a unifying direction, organization intelligence is based on luck at best.
We know we have clarity when we have minimal politics and confusion, high degrees of morale and productivity, and very low turnover among our exceptional employees. Why? Everyone is operating from their core strengths and contributing to the shared vision. Additionally, the value of a organizational clarity has a ripple effect that affects all who come into contact with the organization and its members.
How does an organization attain clarity? In a word, good leadership. In the same way that leaders define the culture of an organization, establish vision, mission and values, leaders are also responsible for clarity of these things, or lack thereof, as the case may be.
Leaders Establish Clarity
An organization simply cannot attain clarity if the people who are chartered to run it don’t embrace a shared vision. In any organization, small or large, start up to a squadron, a church or a school, dysfunction at the top inevitably leads to a lack of clarity throughout. It’s the preverbal shopping cart with wheels out of alignment—there a lot of noise, a lot of wobble, and forward progress takes a lot of extra thrust.
Leaders Build on Clarity
The leadership team of a organizationally-clear entity must be intellectually aligned and committed to the same answers to four simple questions:
- Why do we exist?
- How do we win?
- What do we do and what is our priority? (These first three are Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle.)
- Who does what, and when?
Answering these questions can be extremely difficult, take some time, but MUST be done if organizational clarity it to be achieved.
Further there can be no doubt as to how these four questions are answered among leadership.
Leaders Overcommunicate Clarity
Once leadership has established clarity around the answers to these questions, communication becomes the priority. These answers are spread to the organization’s members, repeatedly and enthusiastically as often as possible. These answers are worked into conversations, briefings, power point slides—simply put, when it comes to reinforcing clarity, there is no such thing as too much communication.
Leaders Reinforce Clarity
Finally, in order for an organization’s clarity to thrive over time, leaders must establish a few critical, non-bureaucratic systems to reinforce clarity in every process—hiring, directing performance, rewards and recognition, termination—anything and everything that involves people.
1:Establish, 2: Build, 3: Over-Communicate, and 4: Reinforce (E.B.O.R.) may sound simple or even idealistic, but clarity is a matter of degrees. Any improvement in clarity reaps benefits. There will always be those who use “idealism” as an excuse not to make the effort or find this all too simple to actually implement or to even work. Not surprisingly, the key is leadership.
If an organization is to get clear, it must have the genuine and active involvement of the leader! The leader must be out front of the entire effort. Without the leader’s commitment, this model is essentially sabotaged from the beginning. The leader must own clarity, live clarity, he/she must support clarity, incentivize clarity and reward clarity. Clear?
2 Replies to “Crystal Clear Organizational Clarity: 4 Key Components”
An excellent collection of pearls of wisdom. I wonder if, “How do we measure success?” belongs in the list. Reading through this really hearkens back to project management principles, at least to me. What is the unique outcome we are creating and why is it important to create that? Applying those questions to leadership may appear overly simplistic, but at the crux of the matter, people are involved and that clarity of purpose and vision is important to getting things done in the best way possible while taking care of the people that are doing those good deeds.
Keep in touch and keep this blog rolling, it is a great place!
Ben: It seems the simple questions are often the hardest to answer–or maybe that’s just my Citadel education talking. Measuring success is always difficult when it comes to leadership–the timing is tough, near term, long term? If you think back to Masterminds 1.0–did we achieve success? In what? Why? I think about things like this often. Thoughts?
Thanks for the comment