Clarity is essential for a team to be effective – clarity of purpose, clarity of roles, and clarity of goals. This article will explore several aspects of clarity and shed some light on how to create clarity. Without clarity, ambiguity will follow which results in mediocrity at best, but likely confusion, frustration, and ineffectiveness.
In his book The Next Generation Leader, Andy Stanley states that uncertainty is a permanent part of the leadership landscape. That being the case, your goal should not be to eliminate uncertainty, but develop the art of being clear in the face of uncertainty. Stanley says the art of clarity involves giving explicit and precise direction in spite of limited information and unpredictable outcomes. He adds that that kind of clarity requires both confidence and humility – confidence to move boldly in the direction you have determined, and humility to acknowledge that at best you are making an educated guess. As leaders we can afford to be uncertain, but we cannot afford to be unclear. In fact clarity is perceived as leadership. Clarity creates its own influence and its own momentum.
Your role on a team should be based on your strengths and requires an understanding of how God has placed you on the team and the strengths of others on the team. Rodney Cox, founder of Ministry Insights and author of the Leading From Your Strengths profile, shares an insightful illustration of this concept. In 1 Corinthians 12:18, Paul writes, “God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased”. Cox explains that God has purposely placed each of us in specific settings to use our strengths. The word “set” used in this passage is a jeweler’s term. It refers to the method in which a gemstone is attached to a piece of jewelry in order to optimize its features. In the same way, God intentionally places us in settings to maximize our strengths and allow us to be completed by others around us. By studying how a jeweler sets a stone in a piece of jewelry, we can better understand how God sets us in relationships to reflect His strengths. A jeweler has three goals when setting a stone.
Goal #1: Maximize its strengths. A jeweler carefully studies a gemstone to choose the setting that makes the most of its assets. By positioning the stone in optimal lighting, the jeweler can enhance the stone’s characteristics to reflect its beauty at various angles. Just as a gemstone has its own uniqueness, God has crafted you with unique strengths. He carefully sets you in environments where you can use those strengths to their best advantage for the Kingdom.
Goal #2: Minimize its imperfections. The jeweler arranges the setting to allow the stone’s strengths to take the spotlight, while protecting its limitations. The setting helps to compensate for any parts of the stone that might reduce its value. In the same way, God deliberately places each of us where others’ strengths compensate for our limitations.
Goal #3: Protect God’s gifts. A good setting secures the gemstone firmly so there is no danger of loss and protects it from scratches, normal wear, or from a sudden blow. The jeweler has been entrusted with protecting the gemstone. You are entrusted with protecting strengths. You can use your strengths safely and wisely to build up others, rather than tear them down. At the same time, you can protect others’ strengths by placing a high value on their God-given abilities. God has intentionally placed you in settings where He wants you to use your strengths. When you guard the strengths entrusted to you and place a high value on others’ strengths, you do your part in protecting God’s precious gifting in those around you.
Once your role on the team is clear, you can begin to create clarity as a leadership team. Patrick Lencioni in his book The Advantage, states that creating clarity is one of four essential disciplines of a healthy organization. The leadership team of a healthy organization must be intellectually aligned and committed to the same answers to six simple but critical questions. 1) Why do we exist? (core purpose) 2) How do we behave? (core values) 3) What do we do? 4) How will we succeed? (strategy) 5) What is most important, right now? 6) Who must do what? Lencioni goes on to say that once a leadership team has become cohesive and worked to establish clarity and alignment around the answers to the six critical questions, they need to communicate those answers over and over again. Then they need to do everything they can to reinforce them structurally as well.
Clarity empowers leadership teams as well as those they lead. Clarity also makes genuine buy-in possible so that team members can hold one another accountable and focus on results. You can’t hold people accountable for things that aren’t clear.
The importance of clarity cannot be overstated in order for a team to be effective and an organization to be healthy. For additional articles and information about effective ministry teams, visit effectiveministryteams.com .