The Case for Clarity: A Key Leadership Quality

“Effective leaders don’t have to be passionate. They don’t have to be
charming. They don’t have to be brilliant… They don’t have to be great speakers. What they must be is clear. Above all else, they must never forget the truth that of all the human universals – our need for security, for community, for clarity, for authority, and for respect – our need for clarity, when met is the most likely to engender in us confidence, persistence, resilience, and creativity.”
– Marcus Buckingham in The One Thing You Need to Know…about Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success, Free Press, 2005.

There’s a lot to be said for clarity and simplicity. When executives at the top
make short, clear statements about their defined customers, core strengths,
desired future and action plans, they prevent employee confusion and anxiety. They create confidence throughout the organization and replace uncertainty with resilience and creativity. In fact, clarity may be the most essential quality for leading large groups of diverse employees to a desired future.

Warren Bennis once remarked that he found over 800 definitions of leadership. But if, as he also proclaims, at least 15 percent of an organization’s success is due to leadership, we need to know what it really is, how to identify people who demonstrate it, and how to nurture those traits in potential successors.

What talents are needed to lead effectively? How important is clarity in leading diverse groups of employees?

Marcus Buckingham, who co-authored First Break All the Rules, and Now, Discover your Strengths, recently published a new book: The One Thing You Need to Know. He makes this definition:

“Great leaders rally people to a better future, by discovering what is universal and capitalizing on it.”

He proposes that what defines a leader is a preoccupation with the future and
the ability to communicate that vision with clarity. This image for a better
future drives him or her on.

The full 2000 word article discusses the following concepts:

Leadership Qualities Defined
The Difference Between Great Managing and Great Leading
The One Thing a Great Leader Must Do
Universal Fears and Needs
Four Points of Clarity
Whom do we serve?
What is our core strength?
What is our core score?
What actions can we take today?
How Do the Best Leaders Achieve Clarity?
Take time to reflect
Select your heroes with great care

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