Think Differently. Be Clear.

For teams to execute strategy brilliantly, a leader must be clear. Clear about the vision (the direction). Clear about the strategy (the way to move closer toward the vision) in a way that each person can understand the role they play to brilliantly execute that strategy. Clear about the purpose (why the company exists) and how the strategy aligns with this purpose.

One leader who inspired others, and connected to them with his communication in an actionable way, was Steve Jobs former CEO of Apple.

Steve Jobs Think different 1997

What stands out in this video, and what Jobs is well known for, is how clearly he communicates and how he emphasizes the importance of clear communication. This is what Clarity, which I simply define as Getting Clear & Being Clear, is about. Jobs is “Being clear” in his communication with his internal team, he is helping them “Get clear” about the vision, purpose and strategy (in this case for marketing), and he is also modeling how they might “Be clear” in their communication to the market.

Do you think that Getting Clear & Being Clear will support better decision-making? That is, decisions that are nimble (keep the company moving forward) and offer the clear direction that helps ensure brilliant execution of that decision? Exactly, yes!

Creating a “great” strategy is similar to making a “great” decision. Can you think of any decision that over time you look back on and say, “That was a great decision!” without actions being taken after the decision that made it “great?” A strategy may be great, but if not executed well – if the results are not as desired – then you are back to the start (or worse).

Results matter. As a leader you must communicate in a way that focuses the heads and hearts of people on their best next steps they can take to execute strategy and move, together, toward a shared vision.

Sometimes it is you and your leadership team who lack Clarity. You can’t always be clear, but you can adjust how you communicate with those who need to execute. And you can empower them to help everyone including you become more clear over time.

Apple lost Clarity between 1985 and 1996 and was no longer executing in alignment with the company’s “To keep things simple” brand promise. Complexity crept in. Products proliferated. Quality slipped.

When Jobs returned in December 1996 Apple was in a death spiral. Sales and market share were falling precipitously. Expenses were ballooning out of control. Departments battled one another. Some of the former CEO’s top managers were in denial; many of the most talented were leaving. The outcomes of the lack of Clarity were showing up as early as 1991 with a decline in profitability.

Upon Jobs’ return to Apple, he immediately focused himself and prepared to orchestrate a Pivot: from a proliferation of products that revealed the impact of a lack of focus on design or quality, to a focus on fewer products built with great design and quality in mind. His message to the team, “You are bright people. You shouldn’t be wasting your time on crappy products.” Perhaps you would choose different words. My point is that the company – and any successful company – places a high priority on Clarity. Getting clear and being clear.

Leadership today: Balance masculine and feminine traits

PIVOT, leadership, masculine, feminine
PIVOT to a more balanced way of leading

Input about how to BE as a “Leader” is plentiful. There are also books on management, which is part of the issue in our lack of leadership, which I’ll discuss briefly later.

Should you be more competitive and guided by The 48 Laws of Power or should you be more empathetic and guided by Emotional Intelligence? Answer? Be aware of both and be authentic to who you really are and why you are on this earth doing what you do. This is about balance.

First, envision how you want to BE, as a leader. Then, become aware of how you are BEING now (you’ll need to search inside and ask others whom you trust). And then, determine your best next steps to Pivot from the you right now to the you that you intend to be.

Here is one scenario to help you get clear about how a possible imbalance of your own masculine and feminine traits may be holding you back from being a great leader, or from meeting the expectations of a work role. I encourage you to collaborate with trusted others to understand how you are BEING so that you can then determine how you might change. Continue reading “Leadership today: Balance masculine and feminine traits”

Agile, Lean, and The Pivot

Nimble, Agile, Lean, The Pivot, Aligned Momemtum
Nimble: Agile Lean Pivot

As a leader, you are positioned to orchestrate change. You may have teams already working together in a nimble way, and a way in which change comes naturally. Bridge these styles (and often unique languages) together, and you will find that leading – and orchestrating change – throughout the organization comes more naturally.

  • Familiar with Lean? You will recognize the phrase “working together.”
  • Or with Agile? You will recognize “collaboration.”
  • Top leadership? You will recognize those phrases and “strategic alignment.”

    (When there is alignment and engagement and empowerment, you’ve reached a state of Aligned Momentum)

  • It is only in the state of Aligned Momentum that performance breakthroughs are possible.

    It’s up to you, the leader, to ensure that all players come together to make one enchanting sound. Make communication and clarity a top priority.

    A Leader’s Clarity: 5 Ways to Get Clear (about what you really want)

    Clarity Get Clear
    Clarity: Get Clear, Be Clear

    In an earlier post, I introduced the topic of “Clarity: Getting clear and being clear” and focused on better understanding individuals in order to be more clear in your communication with them.

    The Pivot, Aligned Momentum Key Indicators
    Key Indicators of Aligned Momentum

    Now, let’s dive deeper into the first part of Clarity,”Getting clear.”
    Continue reading “A Leader’s Clarity: 5 Ways to Get Clear (about what you really want)”

    Leaders, here are 3 ways to grow, and inspire others to keep growing

    Aligned Momentum - Mastery Mindsets
    Mastery Mindsets are critical to business vibrancy

    When I wrote the book The Pivot: Orchestrating Extraordinary Business Momentum, I was somewhat surprised when after boiling down all the possible indicators of what makes a leader successful in leading a vibrant business, and achieving Aligned Momentum, there were just six (listed at the end of this article).

    Mastery Mindsets is the second key indicator in the first group of three, which indicate a readiness for brilliant execution of strategy. Your business cannot be vibrant, and you and all those in your organization cannot be nimble, without the openness, curiosity, courage, integrity and grit to continue to grow. Continued growth is the path of mastery.

    You may be wondering how “vibrant business” is defined. I define it as:

    A vibrant business commands the highest valuation, stays ahead of the competition, and is a great place to work.
    Continue reading “Leaders, here are 3 ways to grow, and inspire others to keep growing”

    Want a Vibrant Business? Gain Clarity (Get Clear & Be Clear)

    Get clear and be clear. As a leader if you do anything very well, be a master of communication so that everyone is clear and aligned toward strategic objectives.

    Want people to be both aligned and engaged? Be clear in a way that connects what they desire for themselves to what the business needs from them in their role.

    Continue reading “Want a Vibrant Business? Gain Clarity (Get Clear & Be Clear)”

    Reflecting on Holidays. How can holidays foster collaboration?

    To foster collaboration in any workplace, it is critical to recognize that not every person celebrates the same holidays and even if two people do celebrate the same holiday it is done often in different ways.

    What might you do to show that you truly care to understand another person’s point of view, and to have the authentic curiosity to learn more about how their point of view came about?

    On holidays of any nation, and every day, let’s be grateful that we can choose what to believe and how to BE.

    Continue reading “Reflecting on Holidays. How can holidays foster collaboration?”

    3 unintended consequences from not speaking out when your gut says it’s wrong

    The Pivot
    Create a culture where every person feels safe to speak out

    It’s subtle. Yet it is powerful. That is: The internal pull to do what fits in – what doesn’t stir things up – because speaking out would be too uncomfortable. What is uncomfortable feels risky.

    Yet by not speaking up you are also taking a risk, and perhaps a bigger risk than if you spoke up.

    Every time we choose we are telling our brains that this is what we want.

    Continue reading “3 unintended consequences from not speaking out when your gut says it’s wrong”