The Holy Grail Of Teams: Clarity

The Holy Grail Of Teams: Clarity
Thomas Thompson
April 12, 2022
min read

Clarity is the holy grail of teams. 

This is the drum I beat whenever I work with teams.  Why?  Because when we are identifying where they are stuck, invariably lack of clarity is the culprit.

Lack of clarity shows up:

  • When we leave a meeting and are not sure what we decided, or who is doing what
  • When I have a job description in a drawer somewhere, but I don't know what I really need to do to win at work
  • When the values on the wall become a list at which we just roll our eyes
  • When I don't see how what I am doing is helping the organization move forward
  • When we don't know what is in your lane, and what is in mine, and we end up swerving into one another

Clarity won't guarantee you get where you want to go, but lack of clarity guarantees you will struggle to get there. 

How do you get clarity?

Intentional conversations.

You have to name the elephant in the room.  You have to ask the dumb question.  You have to ruthlessly seek out lack of clarity and drag it into the light.  

George Bernard Shaw wrote, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  And it is this illusion that fosters lack of clarity.  So we have to smash that illusion through intentional conversations.

What are those conversations?

When I help teams achieve clarity I use six questions that organizational leadership consultant Patrick Lencioni says every organization should be able to answer.  These six questions are straightforward, but they uncover cloudiness.  

You can find out more about these questions in Lencioni’s The Advantage, but here they are to get you thinking:

  1. Why do we exist?  Identify the core reason for our team to exist and why it matters. 
  2. How will we succeed? Name the 3-4 strategies we use that differentiate us from others. 
  3. What do we do? The simple, key activities we actually do everyday. 
  4. Who must do what? Defined roles, lanes, and responsibilities for each team member.
  5. How will we behave? The values that make us, us, and drive our decisions and culture. 
  6. What’s most important, right now? What is the rallying cry for the next season?

Often the CEO or leader confidently assumes everyone is on the same page as them, only to have these questions expose that illusion.  But that’s a good thing, because surfacing confusion is the first step towards gaining clarity.

Consider setting aside a day, or a series of team meetings to walk through these 6 questions.  If you do, download this helpful Team Alignment Canvas from the good folks at Strategy Field Guide.   

But while leaders like you can certainly lead these conversations yourself, I often find it helpful to have the leader sit across the table as part of the process, not leading it. This allows them to truly observe the team in a real life setting and gain insight on how people are thinking and engaging. It also gives the team more freedom to disagree and debate. 

Where is lack of clarity hurting your team?  How can a little grail-seeking help you gain the clarity you need to keep moving forward?

I'd love to talk with you more about this. Shoot me an email and let's start gaining that grail of clarity today.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

I founded Thompson Leadership to come alongside leaders like you. Together, we will unpack your unique leadership, unearth your biggest challenge, and create an action plan to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
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