We’ve been talking a lot about playing offense lately. It’s no secret it’s time to free ourselves from the defensive mode we’ve all been in for far too long. We’ve talked about transformation, resilience, and adaptability, as we shift our mindsets from a reactionary standpoint to an anticipatory one. But let’s be very clear – we cannot do any of it without clarity.
With the constant volatility and change surrounding us for over two years, it’s no wonder we’re all a bit confused … to say the least. We feel stuck, unsure of which direction to turn, uncertain about what comes next. So, we stay stagnant. There’s a saying that confused minds take no action. But isn’t action exactly what we all need right now?
It’s time to commit to our playbooks, which capture our offensive plans. It clearly shows what actions need to occur when we start playing offense in our business. But clarity is about more than our playbook. It’s even about more than these actions. It’s about focusing on our own motivations and behaviors, as well as those of our team’s. It’s about learning how to revive our teams by pulling them out of these high stress, high anxiety environments, so they begin to feel like they have a chance to win again.
A State of Ambiguity
Staying in defensive mode (the default of experiencing prolonged crisis)leads to confusion and ambiguity. Organizations want specificity, they try for specificity, but they are ambiguous about direction. Eventually, it reaches a point where the organization is stifled. It’s just spinning its wheels – just like its team is.
People are extremely stressed now. Smart, well-intentioned people are burning out, in large part, because of this ambiguity. They come into work already exhausted with issues they’ve experienced in their personal lives and then have to prepare themselves for whatever comes their way at work. This heightened level of unpredictability is causing extreme levels of burnout.
By definition, burnout is physical or emotional exhaustion as a result of prolonged stress or frustration. And as always, with increased stress comes poorer nutrition, less sleep, and decreased focus. We simply cannot have clarity and be burnt out at the same time.
This ambiguity and burnout also lead to substandard performances. Without clarity, there is no organizational roadmap, and with no real direction, there is a dilution of priorities, inaccurate conclusions, and faulty assumptions. It also creates opportunities for biases, as unclear messaging is open to interpretation.
What revelations have you had during this time about your leadership style, organization, team, behaviors, and culture?
When you take a step back and look at how you, your team, and the organization overall have been responding to various external (and sometimes internal) stimuli, do you see focus and clarity? Or do you see ambiguity and burnout? What cycles have you fallen into?
This discovery could lead to various opportunities to get clear. Maybe there are new training needs for your team to explore. What about taking some time to adjust your relationships? Is it possible to treat your customers as partners and have honest conversations with them regarding shifting expectations?
Taking this time can help you, and those you lead, gain some clarity, improving your team’s ability to execute confidently and change directions, when needed. With clarity, the team has more confidence that they are doing work that actually needs to get done to make forward progress toward the organization’s vision. Teams are more engaged and satisfied – crucial components of current workforce trends.
Tips to Get Clear
I hope it’s getting clearer – clarity is required in the strategic ability of leaders and their teams. It’s required for the very longevity of the organization itself. But clarity requires focus, discipline, and engagement. So, how do we get clear?
Here are a few tips:
- Understand where your organization is going.
- Assess it and commit to it, so your team can too.
- Ensure transparency with the team and any communication regarding vision and action steps.
- Use a focused foresight strategy to help put your path in perspective. Allow for flexibility to change course, as needed, but have a clear direction first.
- Be ready for any battle that comes your way, but first have a game plan to be strategic about the steps needed.
- Clearly define the objectives, rules of engagement, and how to resolve conflicts.
- Be decisive – for yourself and your team.
- Give yourself a break. Do not put increasing pressure on yourself that you need to have all the answers right now. You don’t. But you do need to have a clear vision.
What’s possible in your organization when you have clarity?
Clarity starts with a reflection of the values and principles that drive you, your team, and your organization. But at any level, it’s about purpose. Understanding what values are most important – not just on paper, but in action throughout the organization – is key. And it starts with you.
Leadership is personal. Your intentions must be aligned with your actions personally and professionally. Ask yourself how well your life values and goals align with your organization’s? How well do they align with the playbook? How well do they align with your team?
After you find alignment, remember that kindness is free. It doesn’t cost us anything to be kind to others. People have reached their limits. It’s why we’ve experienced the Great Resignation. And those who stayed often have only been met with more work, rather than appreciation or kindness. The time for robotic responses as defense mechanisms to maintain sanity is over. With clarity, you can get back to values-based leadership and purpose-driven actions.
Your team needs a clear understanding of what the goals are, what steps are needed to reach those goals, and what obstacles are present. This clarity of vision fuels passion and excitement, driving all stakeholders to success.
Remember, don’t do what you’ve always done because you’ll always get what you got. Let’s go get it. Let’s go win.
To hear more about this topic and others from Crystal Davis, go to https://pod.co/lead-lean