The Importance of Clarity

“I’ve learned over time that a key leadership responsibility is to force clarity, especially with respect to roles, appropriate behaviors, communications, and decisions made in meetings.”

—Richard Brilliant, Chief Audit Officer and Senior Vice President, Risk Advisory and Assurance Services, Carnival Corporation

Clarity is vital for organizational health. And while the importance of clarity is easy to understand, it can get tricky when we start to try to put it into practice. 

We all have so many examples of how clarity can be lacking, often at critical times, like in our leadership meetings. 

It can feel repetitive and even embarrassing to begin meetings, in the same way, every time, by stating the purpose and desired outcomes of the meeting and then asking the team to recite our purpose, values, and most important goal(s). Likewise, it can seem repetitive to clarify decisions and actions and what will/will not be communicated at the end of meetings, but the importance of this cannot be overstated.

I like to tell the story I learned from my friend, Richard Brilliant, at Carnival Corporation. On a cruise ship, all of the different leaders and their teams have different priorities. The Captain’s ultimate priority is to make sure the vessel and its passengers arrive at its destination safely and on time. While also mindful of safety, the Cruise Director’s top priority related to his/her role is making sure everyone on the boat has fun. Each leader on this team has different (and sometimes competing) priorities. If that top team is not aligned about decisions, actions, and messaging before they leave the meeting, the result could mean great confusion across the ship.

Creating clarity on a team and in an organization doesn’t just happen. It requires the leaders to be extra intentional about making sure their decisions and actions are clear and that a consistent message is delivered clearly across the enterprise. 

The intentionality and discipline around clarity are characteristics of a healthy, high-achieving organization. Don’t we all want to be the leader of an organization like that?

Read more about Richard Brilliant’s insights on clarity in Rookie Mistakes: Advice From Top Executives on Five Critical Leadership Errors. 

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