7 Traits of Leaders Who Turn Clarity into Reality
Having clarity for your organisational vision is one thing; progressing that clear vision and strategy is entirely another. Many organisations spend a fortune on being extremely clear about what they want to achieve and continuously communicate it gung ho to their senior leaders, but with perhaps less talk about turning it into a reality. According to PWC ‘research shows that 70 percent of strategic failures occur due to poor execution.’
A leader who has great responsibility in influencing others, and producing results, needs to take their skills into their own hands and consider how they progress goals and visions through their very own leadership traits.
In studying leaders in action, I frequently observe communication styles and importantly their own sense of self and personal resilience whilst interacting with their people. Narrowing down the most powerful traits of a leader who passes on clarity has been inspiring not only personally, but to see how others react in their presence.
These leaders personify the following:
They are believable
Believability encompasses a leader showing alignment in their communication, confidence in the truth and exhibiting a sense of doing the right thing.
They don’t hide the hard stuff
By communicating all the elements of reality, people are more likely to trust someone who discusses and approaches the good, bad and indifferent. Recognising the hard stuff that is shareable (minus confidential or yet to be released information) helps teams productively consider all options and angles.
They make assertive decisions
Quick decision making in simple and easy situations brings confidence to those who need to act. The more leaders appear to need time to consider in simple situations, the more it shows they may not have clarity needed to progress. According to Joseph Folkman’s research ‘…leaders who ranked high in both characteristics (assertiveness and judgement) had an actual 71% chance of being rated as one of the best leaders.’ This is opposed to less than 12% when only one of the characteristics are displayed.
They openly map their high-level outcomes
Quite often leaders are several steps ahead in their knowledge, thinking and planning but the team is frequently lagging in exposure to information. Therefore, leaders who consistently explain and recap high level outcomes will keep people on task and focussed.
They know the difference between direction and collaboration
Great leaders will be direct when needed and collaborate at other times. Clear goals and visions aren’t always up for discussion (get on or off the bus comes to mind here). So knowing when to direct and when to collaborate helps others to follow well and interact appropriately in meetings and discussions.
They don’t get caught up in emotions or politics
Senior leaders in particular, are barraged daily with ego, politics and agendas from many conflicting stakeholders. Their ability to filter unnecessary emotional side-tracks and stick to facts, logic and end goals are essential in not wasting time or energy. When communicating back to the wider team, this is essential not to bring with them the unproductive chatter.
They keep on track with pragmatism
I’m a huge fan of pragmatism. Patterns, sequences and trends that leaders can apply with evidence and practical application enabling progress. To do this well, leaders need to understand pragmatism’s counterpart; emotions. Emotional acuity and intelligence will help progress and clarity continue, where emotions and facts are clearly separated.
Patrick Lencioni’s The Advantage is a brilliant read for more on clarity. As Lencioni states, ‘Alignment and clarity cannot be achieved in one fell swoop with a series of buzzwords and aspirational phrases crammed together. It requires a much more rigorous and unpretentious approach.’