5 for 5 blog – Vagueness begets vagueness

27 Feb

vague (1)

My team just finished finalizing our 2017 goals and development plans. All of this was a combination of our aspirations to advance the organization, foster greater engagement across our regions, all while continually delivering on our commitments to protect the business.

Just as I thought we had settled everything amongst my staff, one of the newer managers reached out and said, “Thank you. It would be great to discuss in our one-on-one.”

Initially I was taken back, may be even a little frustrated. Hadn’t we all reviewed this in a staff meeting? Hadn’t we all exchanged emails on ideas and what was meant to be accomplished?

But then I stopped myself….frankly I was embarrassed at my first reaction . All this team member wanted was alignment and clarity. As a newer leader on the team, I know this person has high expectations of themselves and their team to reach for the goals and alignment was critical to enable their confidence to pass on to their team as well as engage clients to collaborate on achieving those goals.

As leaders we think we are speaking with clarity about goals, vision, or strategies, but often we can be blinded to our own vagueness. And the problem is: vagueness only begets more vagueness. While I am a very bigger believer in allowing autonomy to all of our team members, one of the key aspects is making sure the end state or expectations are well understood before getting out people’s way to allow them to exercise their own creativity and leadership. But, we need to constantly reinforce and check for clarity and understanding with our team members and adjust as needed.

An even bigger lesson learned is what would have happened if I would have shut that person down by asking them to “just proceed”. In that instant I would have stifled not only that question, but that person’s confidence to approach me with other questions. Fortunately, I caught myself before responding, but if we say we value all questions, then we need to be open to all questions, big and small.

The conversation turned out great. The person was able to walk through each goal one by one and I found a few assumptions I had made, but had somewhat blindly assumed everyone would understand. It was a great reminder to slow it all down, embrace every question, and think about the larger implications these questions can have in building a culture that is supposed to espouse trust, creativity, and leadership.

Here are this week’s 5 for 5 articles:

5 Tenets of Teamwork – by Brad Stulberg

The Rise of the Monk Mode Morning – by Cal Newport

Obsessive Attention to Detail Isn’t Crazy, It’s Required – by Jocelyn Glei

  • http://jkglei.com/obsession
  • SO WHAT: “Every craft requires attention to detail. Whether you’re building a bicycle, an engine, a table, a song, a typeface or a page: the details are not the details, they make the design.”

Creativity – by Do Lectures

The why of urgent vs. important – by Seth Godin

All the best, kevin