By: Suzanne Qualia - Published on February 13th, 2024
Many leaders I work with who are striving to elevate their impact in motivating and engaging their teams often focus on the areas of setting expectations, holding accountabilities, and providing recognition and feedback. While these important and helpful leader behaviors get you 80 yards down field toward the endzone, the ability to ultimately score lies with the leadership behavior of providing clarity.
What does it mean to provide “clarity” as a leader? Why is it important and how does a leader achieve clarity with colleagues, peers, and team members?
That’s what we’ll explore in this month’s topic.
Let’s delve into this topic of “clarity” utilizing the 4M framework: Meaning, Mindsets, Motivations, and Methods.
What does clarity mean? At its simplest, clarity is about being understandable, transparent, and free from ambiguity or confusion.
From a leadership perspective, there are two main aspects to consider: At one level, it’s about knowing the bigger purpose, vision, mission, and how the high-level business strategy achieves that mission and purpose. The second aspect to providing clarity is to help team members define how their work contributes to the bigger purpose.
What clarity IS: Creating connection – generating energy, motivation, innovation, creativity, and passion for the work that needs to get done using mission, vision, purpose, business strategy, and core values of the organization as the bigger “why.”
What clarity is NOT: Micromanaging – telling direct reports how to complete a project or task by outlining detailed steps.
To avoid crossing the line between clarity and micromanaging, focus on the bigger picture, higher level strategy, mission and purpose; don’t focus on execution-level thinking.
What keeps leaders from providing clarity? See if any of these might apply to you or your current work situation:
What mindsets support leaders in providing clarity? How can you shift into a clarity mindset?
Why does providing clarity as a leader matter?
Korn Ferry, a global organizational consulting firm, reveals in their Organizational Climate research and assessment tools that “organizational climate is one of the most accurate measures of leadership effectiveness.” Korn Ferry’s research has identified six leadership behaviors that matter most in creating a positive organizational climate that influences, engages, and motivate the team to do their best work.
Of these six behaviors, they cite the leadership behavior of clarity to be the most important of all the climate dimensions. The presence of clarity is the key indicator of overall climate health. They also go on to say that “providing high levels of clarity is harder than ever to create and maintain in today’s rapidly changing business context, especially in flat, matrix structures and diverse, global teams. Most leaders find that clarity requires constant attention and effort.”
If that much attention and effort need to be focused on clarity, what are some ways that leaders can provide clarity to their teams? Which leads us to method. What are some ways to bring about clarity for the team?
1. Leaders go first.
As with most things, leaders must go first. What does this mean? Some areas to consider:
2. Assess where clarity exists and where it doesn’t for your team.
Ask questions, don’t assume. Here are some questions to ask your team to assess what’s helpful or needed. Your specific situation might generate additional questions to add to the list.
a. What is the overall strategy, direction and goals of the organization? How does this support our mission?
If the team member is unclear, you might ask: What would help you understand this more?
b. How does our team contribute to achieving the overall strategy of the organization? How does your work specifically contribute to achieving our team contribution?
As with the earlier question, if unclear, you might ask: What’s unclear about how our team contributes to the overall organizational strategy? What would help you understand this more?
c. What inspires and motivates you in your work?
Look for connections to the bigger mission and purpose of the company, and if not present, coach the team member to find their own purpose and meaning in their work and the connection to the higher vision.
d. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being high, how well do you know what’s expected of you in your role/this project?
The beauty and power of this scaling question is that no matter what answer is provided, there is a built-in next question, which spurs the needed deeper dialog and exploration. For example, let’s say someone answers “x.” The two built-in follow-up questions are: “What makes it an ‘x’?” and, even more importantly, “What would make it a an ‘x+1’?” Another great question might be: “What keeps your clarity around expectations from being a 10?” What will help in aligning our expectations together?
3. Reinforce strategy and direction.
Use team meetings, project meetings and 1:1’s to remind team members of the overall company strategy, direction and goals and how the team and department work connects. Check-in on understanding of expectations on projects and initiatives. Keep a pulse on things by using the assessment questions like those mentioned earlier.
In conclusion, the payoffs for mastering the leadership behavior of providing clarity are huge. It is the key indicator and contributor to positive organizational climates and culture which, in turn, creates high levels of innovation, motivation, engagement and the ability for your team to continue to outpace their objectives achieving greater results.
If a complimentary 30-minute strategy session would be helpful as a next step to upleveling your skills in leading with clarity, click here. Let’s do this!
Are you overwhelmed, burned out, or caught in a tactical whirlwind of to-dos? Or are you calm, balanced, and focused on the bigger strategic plan?
Which picture most describes you as a leader?
Leaders who find themselves closer to the end of the “overwhelmed” spectrum often treat the symptoms instead of looking for the root causes of why they feel overwhelmed by an overflowing list of tactical work. They reach for solutions like better time management, productivity tools, work-life balance considerations, and stress management tactics. While these are all helpful tools, the biggest assist might come from one of the most underutilized tools in the leader toolbox – effective delegation skills!
You might be thinking, “I’m great at delegating, yet I still feel overwhelmed, burned out, and caught in the tactical whirlwind!” If that’s you, then one question to consider is: How effective are your delegation skills?
The four M’s of effective skills in delegation are Meaning, Motivations, Mindsets and Methods. Let’s consider each one.
What delegation is NOT:
What delegation IS:
What becomes possible for me as a leader when I 10X my delegation capabilities? On a scale of 1-10, how important is focusing on the strategic vs. tactical, growing and developing your team, and leading at a higher level? On a scale of 1-10, how effective are you now in focusing on those things? How motivated are you to uplevel your delegation skills in order to close the gap?
What are your attitudes and perceptions related to delegation? Take this quick self-assessment to uncover your current underlying beliefs and attitudes toward delegation.
Read each statement and choose the answer that most closely matches your current attitude and approach toward delegation.
How to interpret results:
What are the attitudes and mindsets that support your delegation skills? How are the excuses, attitudes and fears holding you back? What is this costing you?
Do you follow a defined process when you are delegating?
There are two key considerations for building a process for delegation and for improving your delegation skills. Both work together and both are required for success:
Implementing and executing the steps to effective delegation require some thoughtfulness and planning. How many of these are you doing today? What would the impact be if you added those that are missing?
Let’s take a deeper dive into some actionable steps you can take to incorporate effective methods of delegation.
Directions: Identify all new tasks, projects, or activities that you are personally responsible for today. Then answer the remaining questions for each.
Step 2: Project Analysis
Directions: List the projects, tasks, or activities you listed in Step #1 that could be delegated.
Directions: List each employee. Identify their potential for development through delegation, without regard or consideration of the project analysis in Step #2.
Directions: Combine information from Step #2 and Step #3 to define your delegation action plan.
Let’s go back to the question posed earlier. How effective are your delegation skills?
Armed with the 4 M’s – Meaning, Motivation, Mindset, and Methods – you can effectively determine what is going well, what isn’t, and know which “M” will be most effective in closing the delegation gap.
If a complimentary 30-minute strategy session would be helpful as a next step to upleveling your delegation skills, click here: https://calendly.com/qualia-inc/30min. Let’s do this!
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
We credit Einstein with defining insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Even if he didn’t originally say it, many others have and we know that it’s true based on our own experiences as well!
How often do we as leaders do the same things over and over in our battles with employee retention and engagement, but somehow expect different results? And are we getting those different results? Current research says we’re not.
Obviously, it’s time for a change! Let’s fix these problems in a new, unique and better way for everyone!
In case you are dubious about this, let’s look at the facts. Gallup, a global research firm, has been measuring engagement levels for almost 20 years. Those of us who study employee engagement read the summary reports, including “tips” on what to do about it every year, yet the needle hasn’t moved significantly into the “engaged” category. Yes, HR teams and companies have done many great things in an attempt to move that needle – increased pay, better benefits, instituting “flex time” options and offering social perks. These things are necessary and a great foundation upon which to build. But obviously, still not enough given the persistent low engagement scores.
As a hiring manager and/or HR professional responsible for recruitment and retention, you know the woes of this and the level of it for your company! What would happen if you could cut your turnover rate in half?
What is the cost of the engagement gap for your organization? Sparing the details here, research backs up this simple formula: # of employees in your organization * 17 percent (level of disengagement)* 34 percent median salary (Gallup’s researched “cost of disengagement”).
The numbers will be pretty shocking. This is what disengagement is costing your company each year. These costs show up in various forms, including: safety incidents, quality problems, mistakes, errors, productivity issues, missed deadlines, customer service problems and more. Some of these are sometimes hard to measure, but we all know there is a cost. This formula captures those overt as well as “hidden” costs!
Regarding the retention issue, what is that costing organizations today? Studies by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) predicted that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs 6 to 9 month’s salary on average. Again, the math is pretty simple – turnover rate * # of employees * 6 to 9 months of median salary of that group!
Engagement and retention are both resolved with more effective leadership. Again, tons of research backs this up. It all indicates clear and similar reasons for turnover – don’t like the boss, lack of empowerment, internal politics, and lack of recognition. All of this can be grouped into one main category: poor leadership.
As Mike Prokopeak, vice president and editor in chief at Chief Learning Officer magazine, points out in his research (published less than a year ago) that companies realize this. 94% of organizations surveyed indicated they planned to keep their investment in leadership development the same or increase it, citing that the scarcity of in-demand talent and the high cost of attracting talent makes focusing on and developing their next generation of leaders the top priority. You can read his full summary here.
His research says that the focus of that training will be around emotional intelligence and “people focused” training. But that’s not new either! What shift is necessary in order to finally hit the “sweet spot” on those two topics? And how do you get the most bang for your buck on those leadership development spends?
The change needed in leadership development training requires a shift from focusing not only on WHAT you do as a leader, but also on HOW you do it and the effect and the impact you have on others!
My belief is that all leaders INTEND to be inspiring, motivating and engaging as a leader, but their IMPACT misses the mark. How do we fix that?
The short answer is shifting the focus from what you are DOING as a leader, to who you are BEING as a leader.
This is what “conscious leadership” is all about.
Click here schedule a 30 minute complimentary strategy session with Suzanne to learn more about what “conscious leadership” is and what it can mean for your team and organization! Check out the link here if you want to learn more about the journey to unleash your “conscious leader” within.
Suzanne Qualia is an Executive Coach and Team Facilitator who is passionate about helping leaders step into leading from a space of “consciousness” that inspires, motivates, improves engagement and shifts cultures within teams and organizations; AND improves bottom line results. To talk to Suzanne directly, please call 608-354-5392.
In the initial blog post in this series on trust entitled, “Trust: Nature or Nurture?,” the important question of how trust originates was raised. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? While it’s admittedly a combination effect (nature + nurture), the innate view of how we see the world, others in the world, and ourselves within the world has a profound initial impact on our ability to trust.
This series of blog posts related to TRUST will begin to help you understand and uncover this topic from a leadership perspective and, likewise, identify guideposts to watch out for and actions to take to build trust where it might be lacking today.
It matters, because our leadership effectiveness lies in direct proportion to the level of innate (‘nature’) trust we have in others. You might say, “YES, BUT if you trust too much, people walk all over you, take advantage of you, not produce results, and then things go off the rails.”
I’d like to propose that the more successful approach is a “YES, AND” approach. Yes, you trust others to a high degree AND you have the right balance of structure, measurements, milestones, and follow-up to know that things are on track, which will keep you from crossing the line into ‘distrust’ activities and actions. A “YES, AND” approach enables teams to flourish and be at their best, effecting the best bottom line results!
When a leader starts out believing that the team isn’t capable, isn’t motivated, isn’t engaged, and isn’t able to achieve established goals, then these very thoughts precipitate choices that lead to behaviors that bring about the exact results you fear. Leaders who harbor these conscious or unconscious beliefs, and then lead from that space, send strong and wrong signals to their team to become dis-engagers, de-railers, and de-motivators for the team.
What are some of these leadership behaviors that arise from these known or unknown beliefs of distrust?
Who wants to work for a leader or an organization that employs these behaviors? Organizational leaders who are questioning low levels of employee engagement might take a step back and determine whether there are mixed signals being sent.
The values statement on the wall might say, “people are our most valuable asset,” but then daily actions focus on minutiae and outcomes vs. creativity, ideation, passion, and zeal that employees willingly want to bring to the table in order to solve bigger, more important problems. This double or mixed message is a sure engagement buster for your team and organization. It won’t take long. This is why these beliefs and resultant behaviors are so dangerous for your team and for your organization.
Here’s to eliminating conscious or subconscious limiting beliefs around this topic of TRUST and exhibiting new behaviors that create new outcomes for you and your team, elevating trust, and effecting greater engagement, productivity, and bottom line results!
Namaste, until we meet again.
Trust is one of those interesting concepts that often fall into the chicken/egg syndrome. Which came first, trust or distrust? Do you distrust someone until they earn your trust, or do you trust them first until their actions and impacts cause you to distrust them? Which is it? Which approach is more successful?
Before attempting to answer this, let’s all agree on this concept of trust and what it means. Quite simply, as Stephen R. Covey defined in his best-selling book, “The Speed of Trust,” trust simply means confidence in someone, or something. Distrust means that confidence is lacking.
Where does confidence come from before it’s earned or demonstrated? The ‘nature’ standpoint would imply that it’s innate, or, that one possesses a naturally high level of confidence in the human spirit, the human soul. There is the belief that we all intend to do the right thing and create the right impact, but we miss the mark due to becoming temporarily unconscious (i.e., not being aware of the effect of our actions on others and those around us). To the degree that one has a strong positive core belief in the basic desire of people to focus their actions in a positive manner, we would say they naturally have a high level of trust.
From a ‘nurture’ standpoint, creating or building trust would imply that positive and successful actions over time creates and builds confidence and predictability in future outcomes so that a high level of trust is established.
One could conclude that high levels of trust would be created from a combination of both. However, the reality is that you can’t build complete trust in someone unless there is a high dose/preponderance of ‘nature’ (i.e., innate trust in the human soul, positive intentions, etc.).
Why is this? Neuroscience concepts and principles explain it well. Neuroscience would say that what we think about and focus on is what we create. So if we think and focus on the potential for people to do the right thing, make the right choices, then we are energetically providing the pathway for that to happen.
Likewise, the opposite is also true. If we are constantly searching for and thinking about the missteps and mistakes of others, that nothing will go well, that life is hard, and people are stupid, then these things, too, will become our reality.
How does this apply to leadership, and why does it matter? High trust, coming from a ‘nature’ viewpoint forms the core and basis of great leadership, and it completely differentiates a strong leader from a weak one.
There is a long list of negative and disempowering leadership behaviors that ensue without a strong innate/natural sense of trust in the team. The next several blog posts will be dedicated to this topic of trust, along with the positive results from high trust and negative results from a low trust standpoint. We will examine some of these behaviors and self-reflect – where are these showing up in your leadership style? What would open up for you as a leader if they didn’t?
Then the next logical question becomes, “How can I ‘rewire’ my brain for different thought patterns, choices, and outcomes for myself and for my team?” We’ll cover that important piece as well.
Namaste, until we meet again.
It doesn’t have anything to do with the ethnicity, geographic location, or physical characteristics of a group. The essence of ‘culture,’ as I’m identifying it here, strictly has to do with behavior patterns of organizations that have become the norm and which now influence the thoughts, choices, actions and outcomes of the organization. It’s the elusive meaning of the word ‘culture’ that most teams and organizations talk about changing but most really don’t know how to go about doing so.
‘Conscious,’ as used in connection with ‘culture,’ means two things. First, ‘conscious’ means the standpoint of increased awareness. Next, the term ‘conscious’ is used to describe the following behaviors that are elevated vs. contracted or limiting beliefs or behaviors.
As examples: leadership that nurtures, grows, and develops ideas and results vs. dictates; that connects vs. separates; that leads with compassion and empathy vs. relies on positions of power and hierarchy; that leads from a space of “YES…AND” vs. “EITHER…OR;” and that leads from a space where there is balance between ego, relationships, and results vs. an over-focus on only one of those areas.
These are only a few examples of what best describes ‘conscious leadership’ – the type of leadership that can grow and enable your “conscious culture.”
Because the work world is weary and tired of the ‘old school’ command and control, militaristic hierarchy, and the “do as I say and not as I do” leadership style. Employees are tired of the hyper focus on RESULTS at the expense of relationships, along with the health and wellbeing of employees.
I’ve worked in this environment for 25+ years and experienced it myself. But if anecdotal evidence is not enough (or even your own experiences!), just look at the data/research [hyperlink to study]. Gallup has been studying employee engagement since 2001, and the needle hasn’t moved yet on the levels of only slightly engaged or completely disengaged workers.
The data is quite compelling. Each disengaged worker costs an organization about $25,000 annually, and 30% of those employees in your company are disengaged. Additionally, these results come after many, many years of discussion, leadership development and training, and focus around this topic. It’s ironic.
Because we are relying on the same old methods of thinking, doing, and BEING that have evolved teams, groups, and organizations to this point in the past.
New ways of thinking, doing, and BEING! It sounds simple, but if it were that simple, why don’t we all just do it? Ahhh…that’s where the brain comes in.
We are creatures of habit and creatures of our past emotional experiences, which subconsciously dictates our thoughts, choices, behaviors, and, therefore, the outcomes. It’s what causes our impacts to be out of alignment with our intentions.
The most important thing is simply to become aware, and then by applying our process, models, and tools for change to achieve new results in new ways.
Join me on October 26 to learn more about this topic with some ideas and tools that you can start applying right away.
A rudder is a control mechanism that literally helps you to ‘steer your ship.’ Would you like to create balance, align your impact with your intentions, and achieve your goals and dreams for you, your team, and your organization?
Welcome to my inaugural post, which officially launches my newsletter, The Leadership Rudder.
A rudder is needed to help guide and navigate in the direction of and toward a vessel’s ultimate destination. Missing or misaligned, one ends up in the wrong location, taking longer to reach your goals, and often traveling in circles and wasted patterns.
Quite simply, in the exact same way.
When we are directionless and misaligned in our thoughts, choices, and feelings with what matters most to us as leaders, we end up creating unintended consequences and messages. This results in misaligned intent and impact. The net effect of that is that we end up achieving different results than expected, having a less-than-positive impact than we hoped, and not leading from our strong leader self.
Our leadership rudder is deep within us; it’s the core of who we really are, the core of our being – it spans the centers of our intuition, power, empathy, and compassion. These centers are the seat of our wisdom and strength. They are always present, always available.
It happens through the “busy-ness” of life, through the many stressors we face every day, through the barrage of decisions, challenges, and problems that arise daily. Our ability to navigate the day-to-day waters, aligning intention and impact and moving the needle forward in a positive way for our teams, and ourselves, depends on our ability to strengthen and deepen our leadership rudder.
Join me on this journey. Let’s explore together those key stressors you face each day in your leadership journey. Let’s re-discover how to tap into those connection centers to lead in a different way to create uncommon and positive results.
I look forward to connecting with you!