Clarity is the ability to see things as they are with an accurate perception and understanding. It’s a freedom from uncertainty or confusion. It’s the skill to grasp fundamental truths and distinguish false alternatives. Clarity of mind stands as a basic framework to hang other usable skills, and successful leaders learn how to find it.
In Leading with Emotional Courage: How to Have Hard Conversations, Create Accountability, and Inspire Action on Your Most Important Work (Wiley, 2018), author Peter Bregman writes that one of the most distinguishing character traits successful leaders possess is clarity. This encompasses not only reaching a state of clarity but continuing to embody it. In other words, providing clarity to others is just as vital as establishing it within yourself. After all, what is the point of a leader being clear if no one else benefits from it?
In the effort to be all you can be as a leader and determine how to move forward, you need to assess your recent performance and frame your effectiveness. Ask yourself what things went well. Just as important, ask what kinds of things did not go well. Putting together an historical picture helps to reveal patterns.
The next step is to discern common causes for the things that did not go well. The goal is to find a personal theme behind it all, as Bregman suggests. You may find your theme to be similar to these:
- Emotions get in the way of clear thinking and reasonable responses. When I have calm responses rather than emotional reactions, outcomes are much better.
- Overthinking makes things more complicated. When I break things down into simple compartments, solutions are more effective and longer lasting.
- Rushing to conclusions with impatience takes me down terrible paths. Taking a more deliberate approach, dealing with one step at a time, yields a better understanding and thus better decisions.
Your theme determines the corrective action needed to reverse the affects you don’t want to see. Make it your ‘theme for clarity”. Let it be simple, doable and easy to remember. Make it your focus every day. For example, if your theme is to slow down, practice slowing down. A deliberate awareness will become an automatic state of mind. Be all you can be by finding your best self-improvement theme.
Take time to evaluate your performance. Determine what went well and what did not. Do you see a clear theme? Contact me if you would like more information or my assistance with raising your leadership bar. You can reach me here and on LinkedIn.