What do you mean, I’m not clear?! Leaders get critiqued on how well they communicate with their teams regularly. Why?
In a 2019 article on 2020 leadership trends, it was reported that 3 in 4 employees see effective communication as the number one leadership attribute. Yet, less than 1 in 3 employees feel like their leaders communicate efficiently. The reason may not be a head scratcher. Turns out…we all communicate to fit the way we think. And that’s the thing – we all think differently!
Gallup can attest that we are each 1 in 476 trillion. Uniquely made, uniquely talented. Which means none of us are the same and we each communicate in a way that may completely ignore how others need to hear the information. It’s also an area where leaders themselves, have not taken the time to get clear on what they want and how to get there. And when they are not clear, there is little clarity provided to their teams. And they get critiqued for not communicating clearly. It’s a vicious cycle. We also don’t hear it all. It’s been found that we truly only remember about 25 – 50% of what someone is saying to us because any piece of information sends our brains off into other directions of thought. Our brains fire 200 times a second and our mouths plod along at 125 words per minute. We out-think what we say and what we hear.
A recent director came to me with feedback that she had received for not being great at communicating. I asked, “What do you want the end result to be for your team’s project? And were you able to describe that to anyone on that project?” She paused and looked blankly back at me.
I explained that being able to describe exactly what you needed the client to experience or what the project needed to look and feel like at a certain point would provide enough information that others could then ask meaningful questions to keep understanding how to work efficiently. I waited. “You mean I should be able to describe that to my team with enough detail they know what or how to work? Why can’t I just tell them what to do and have them do it?” “You could, but has that worked for you consistently?” I asked in return. “No – I got called a micromanager.” She sighed. Her expression exposed her frustration.
“Do you know – clearly – how to describe what the client wants?” I asked. She looked thoughtful for a moment, her forehead wrinkling, “No, I don’t think I do. I think I need to ask my client more questions.” Ah, Clarity. That elusive concept that challenges people at every step.
If you were to look up why clarity matters, you will find how clarity allows people to describe their values, find purpose in their work, and equate other elements that go on the other end of an equal sign. Clarity = (insert goal) Wait! Come on, it’s not that simple, is it? Yes and No.
Yes, as only you can identify what brings clarity for you, making it uniquely motivating, exciting, and meaningful to move you towards your goals. And No, because while clarity is knowing what you want so clearly you can describe it to someone else, feel what it will feel like when you reach the goal, can defend why it’s important to you, and can share it with others in such a way they get excited too – it’s hard to get that clear without some in-depth thinking.
Clarity provides the why, how, and what to your success – at anything. And clarity is not that easy to get if you’re feeling frustrated, over-looked, passed-over for the promotion, or given unhelpful feedback. In fact, when your brain is wrapped up in what’s going wrong, you lose focus on how to move forward. We all get stuck!
To be the best at what you do, it is recommended to have someone as a mentor, someone as a cheerleader, and someone as a coach. And while a mentor is someone who has gone before you and challenges you to evaluate your next steps with wisdom and experience, and a cheerleader can be a spouse, peer, or friend who supports you as you go after your goals, a coach is someone who can move you forward through the tough stuff with focus on what sets you apart AND without a competing agenda.
Don’t hesitate to step into a conversation to see how coaching elevates your clarity.
Clarity is the first hurdle that coaching tackles with you. A coaching partnership doesn’t work without direction of where you want to grow. You must take the journey of self-discovery, self-assessments, a 360 review, or any aspect of self-learning and become accountable for how people perceive you now – to know where to grow to improve. You noticed I didn’t say change. Coaching is not designed to change you. It is designed to elevate who you are capable of being in your best form. To define what sets you apart.