Most leaders believe they make good decisions. They believe they already have clarity about their situation. Protecting the status quo is the norm. Then something significant happens: their financials show losses, revenues stall, clients leave, good employees take better jobs elsewhere. Now leaders look to take action.
Exceptional leaders are different. They demonstrate a willingness to gain real clarity about what is going on inside and outside their organization — even when not in crisis mode. They take the time to SORT their thoughts to gain the clarity they need for success.
Most leaders believe they are already doing the right things. They believe their products and services already meet valuable client needs. What they don’t realize is their view has been skewed by changes that have gone on around them.
Exceptional leaders understand staying close to your market is crucial to long-term success. They want to understand how their market is changing, why and how to meet those evolving needs. They are constantly assessing client expectations. Their focus is on the future and moving forward with true success.
Sometimes leaders freeze when confronted with the need to take real action. They’re so paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake that they make no decision at all. They wait until the situation is dire and then react by putting out the inconsequential fires, which results in chaos.
Exceptional leaders expect their situations will change and have the discipline to continually analyze how this may affect them. They are always on the lookout for ways to innovate and revitalize their products, services and organizations. They understand periodic strategic corrections are a necessity to overall long-term success.
Most leaders believe they already have enough information. They apply the same set of assumptions to their decision-making that have historically worked for them. They rely on the opinions of underperforming staff to explain the challenges they face. They fail to understand the significance of how changes in external market forces can impact consumer expectations or their long-term survival.
Exceptional leaders look for more than a superficial answer. They look for the pearls of wisdom buried deep in the data and are not afraid to find advisors who will help them find the truth and interpret it. Getting the right information for real decision-making is hard work. They know that it requires a significant effort to reconsider every current assumption and look for changes in the trends and patterns of the data.
Most leaders believe they already have a complete understanding of what is going on. Yet the fundamental reason for a lack of clarity at the top is usually because no one tells them the whole truth. People are penalized for telling the truth.
Exceptional leaders understand clarity begins with a real desire to see the truth of the situation. Truth gives you information. Information gives you insight. Insight gives you the clarity to set the right priorities and focus your people on the most critical activities designed to create success. These leaders find it refreshing to have someone around who will tell them what they don’t necessarily want to hear, but that they already suspect is true.
Getting clarity can be frightening. It can be humbling to realize that critical strategies you previously implemented are the cause of the problems now facing your organization. Yet when you have clarity, it becomes much easier to prioritize what needs to be done to resolve the issue or improve it.
Jill Johnson, president and founder of Johnson Consulting Services, is a management consultant, accomplished speaker, award-winning author and business hall of fame inductee. For more information, visit jcs-usa.com.
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