Ever go to the grocery store only to come home with everything except what you went to get in the first place? Or have you ever set out for a destination in which you have a general idea of where you are headed, but not the exact address? You set out hoping to recognize landmarks along the way, only to experience being lost… and late. It is maddening! I am sure you agree if this has happened to you; and even more so if it has happened more than once.
In both of these situations you vow to “never let it happen again”. And in the moment, the commitment to change your “lack of preparation” behavior is well intentioned. It’s why if you have children or a life partner you tell them to write it down or look it up before they leave. We want to spare them frustration. What a difference it would make if only we would take just a few extra minutes to make a list, write directions or confirm the right address to program into the GPS. Let’s take a similar scenario and apply it to a workplace situation.
A CEO’s Clarity Is A Driver’s Equivalent Of A GPS
Heading out on a project or initiative before there is complete clarity is very common. What’s even worse is when the CEO allows it. How often has a decision been made about leadership’s direction, only to be changed or reversed unprofessionally? Everyone on a Senior Executive Leadership team must own the big initiatives with clarity about who makes the decisions. Until then, the CEO is basically sitting in the backseat yelling at people to stay on the road. A CEO’s clarity is a driver’s equivalent of a GPS. It is the best way to “get back on the designated route” when you look up and realize you have strayed.
I find it remarkable that as many times as I have taught the THE CLEAR AGREEMENT FORM to “leaders” they have still found it to be a great idea…for everyone else. As the CEO or President of the company, they want the clear agreement form utilized but they don’t want to use it themselves. When I return to the organization for follow-up they tell me that accountability is not taking hold as they had hoped. “No one is really using the material from the session.” My first request is to see how many CLEAR AGREEMENTS the CEO has in possession. “Show me what you have facilitated between yourself and your direct reports besides saying ‘make it happen’”. Their response: nothing, zip, zero, nada. Mine: Ridiculous!
The Culture Of An Organization IS The CEO
An accountable organization has an accountable leader. And clear agreements are the hallmark of accountability. Clear agreements are to be proactive, ingrained in the culture of the organization and energized by clear expectations and achievement. So simple, yet so out of reach when there is unwillingness to stop, write it down and get clear before proceeding. Much like when we vow we’ll do better when we get lost or forget that one item at the grocery. The frustration of not getting the desired outcome must not overshadow the benefits of taking the appropriate actions to get clarity first.