Coaching Blog – The Leader’s Role of Clarity and Communication

“I had one sermon, and I preached it everywhere I went over and over again. Because that’s what it takes to get the word out.”Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric (GE) quoted in his book, Jack: Straight from the Gut.

Jack was a great leader of a Fortune 200 Company who passed away in 2020, but the message is a highlight for leaders—we must learn to clarify and over-communicate. In today’s world though, many people think that an email or text message is the quickest and best way to communicate, and for very simple messages those are great. But on more important communication, intentional clarity in communication brings mental focus and energy into the right place to solve problems and keep teams and organizations aligned. It’s absolutely crucial for successful leadership and teamwork.


Clarity Requires a Clear Picture

In my book, Engage with Honor: Building a Culture of Courageous Accountability, the title of chapter five is Clarity Begins with the Leader, and the first section is entitled Clarity is Essential, But never Easy. This is why effective leaders must spend time reflecting on the mission and the people so they can clearly communicate. Good communications require a thoughtful approach in how to share the goals, assignments, guidelines, and expectations.

That seems like a lot, doesn’t it? That’s why leaders need to spend time reflecting to gain a clear picture of what needs to happen and then work to clarify so that all understand what is needed and expected, so that all understand. In short, honorable leaders need to “reflect to direct.”


This coaching clip expands on this idea. Please watch, and then continue reading the blog below –


The reality is that most of us are not naturally wired to think through how to clarify so that others can understand the mission, vision, values (and boundaries), strategies, and decisions. This is what we call the 100,000-foot level and it’s like the big picture. Higher level leaders need to focus mainly on this level. This should be a key mission and message for high level leaders.

At the 50,000-foot level, leaders need to reflect and share standards for the industry, the profession, and the organization. Again, the more clarity you have, the more people are aligned as a successful team.

At the 25,000-foot level, the leader shares with the organization his or her operating preferences and cultural expectations. As I mentioned in the Engage with Honor book, I had eight items that I shared with my team every year that were my way of operating, more specifically what was okay and not okay with me.

Then at 15-, 10-, 5000-foot levels, it was about very tactical day-to-day expectations—what needs to be accomplished, under what conditions, who is responsible for what and the potential consequences. This is about communicating your desired outcomes. Leaders must consider who has the best talents for different roles and not assign a task or role to someone who does not have the talents that are needed to successfully execute the task. That requires some insights and clarity about who is good at what.


Clarity Achieved Through Good Communication

Once you have clarified your thinking and focus and have a good picture of the mission, vision, values, and strategy, and have made decisions, you must over-communicate the message to your people so they can grasp what you are expecting from them. But in many areas, discussions are crucial.


“Leaders must listen to the folks doing the work to learn what’s really happening—what’s working and not working—and then listen.” [Tweet This]


Great leaders know that they must listen because they are not carrying out the day-to-day work of their mission.

Real leaders are secure in themselves and know that they don’t know it all and need to listen.  General C.Q. Brown, recently the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and now the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff of DOD, talks about this in his podcast saying, that when he visits folks in the workplace, he mostly listens.

When you listen, it’s quite likely that you will learn something (and make the speaker feel very important, which means they will work harder and perform better), but also, you will be able to notice if they have clarity about your organizational mission, vision, values. Are they operating in the environment and with the standards that you see needed to accomplish your goals?


A Free Offer to Help You

Clarity and communications are so important that this month we are going to provide you with a link to download a chapter from each of our two leadership books. Download Chapter 5 mentioned above on Clarity, and also Download Chapter 8 from the Leading with Honor book.

In it you will see how over-communicating was essential in the POW camps, and it’s also highlighted by Patrick Lencioni in his fantastic book, The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive. He says the third discipline, “over-communicate,” is the “simplest,” but also the one “most underachieved.“

So, this month, let’s reflect on this and read these two chapters and begin to coach ourselves more on clarity and over-communicate.

LE [Tweet this Article]


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One Comment on “Coaching Blog – The Leader’s Role of Clarity and Communication

Terry G. Dodd
July 3, 2024 at 4:40 pm

Very interesting, Lee. The need for overcommunicating sort of speaks to advertising in that if you want your message to be top of mind, repetition is critical. Thank you.


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