Great Teams armed with clarity know exactly what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and who’s responsible. They hit their deadlines, reach their milestones, and even build great businesses. Those without it spin in circles, waste time, and lose steam.
Technology can help teams achieve this clarity. But mostly teams get clarity from leaders who are habitual about creating it. Whether you’re a Fortune-500 CEO or leading a three-person project team, I believe our primary function as leaders are to provide maximum clarity. And that takes commitment to three things: Clarity of purpose, clarity of plan, and clarity of responsibility.
CLARITY OF PURPOSE
Do you know what you’re trying to achieve? Does your team? If you have clarity of purpose, everyone is on the same page when asked, “If we’re wildly successful, how will the world be different?”
Orchestras or bands, regardless of their individual talents, need a clear sense of purpose. Truly great music teams know that their music is more than just music.
CLARITY OF PLAN
Great orchestras operate in great clarity.
The only thing more frustrating than having no purpose is having an exciting and meaningful purpose that nobody on your team knows how to achieve. If clarity of purpose provides the “why,” clarity of plan provides the “how.”
Clarity of plan takes an investment of time. I recommend spending a few days in focused planning workshops with your team. As part of this foundational planning, lay out a handful of pillars that you believe will lead to success in your mission–your “master strategy.”
Next, establish a set of measurable key results that you aim to achieve by specific dates to support these pillars.
Finally, map out the big projects that your team will take on to achieve those key results, and then the specific tasks to achieve those. Make sure everything the team plans to do for the next several months flows straight back to the purpose of the organization and its master strategy. As the team leader, you’ve now established clarity on when to celebrate and when you need to correct course, because you know what needs to get done.
I’ve found that this investment pays for itself many times over in avoiding weekly and even daily confusion. It’s critical that your plan is not some dusty document that is immediately forgotten or only available to executives. Everyone works together to create it. Everyone has access to it. Everyone knows how he or she fits in. Do this, and your team will have two big new areas of clarity they might not have had before. Understanding what they’re doing and why means fewer missed deadlines and far more progress and productivity.
CLARITY OF RESPONSIBILITY
Great teams understand clarity of responsibilities make way for great shared accountability of the work achieved.
A great step to establishing maximum clarity across your team is rigorously answering the questions. Having a Team Dashboard is a great way to organise who is doing what and when. This prevents clash of one another’s priorities, eliminates duplication of work and wastage of time. Clarity of responsibility ensures that one person holds ultimate responsibility for each piece of the plan. They’re the true owner holding autonomy, delegation duties, and decision- making power. However, great teams understand there is accountability and shared responsibilities involved as well. Establish this empowering framework and watch individuals on your team bring their full motivations to work.
Look back at your plan: your big goals should have one person responsible for them. The projects and tasks can then be meted out and assigned to several other people who are the specialists for getting those pieces done. Put decision making as close to the ground as possible–with the person who has the most information and time to think creatively about that area.
As a leader committed to clarity of responsibility, you won’t have to tell people how to achieve their goals. Instead, you’re asking them for outcomes and giving them space to create solutions. Great leaders coach, serve, and help their teams grow; even advise strongly.