Great Leadership Teams Make the Implicit Explicit

During a recent client leadership team work session an insightful team member used the phrase 'let's make the implicit explicit!' Simple phrase and practical advice but many leadership teams struggle to make being explicit part of how they operate. Why is being explicit so difficult? The following are some observations pulled directly from our client interactions. First, we often assume clarity exists when it really doesn't - 'he plays a global functional role so he clearly will ensure that all regions are well-coordinated.' Next, sometimes it's easier to be a bit ambiguous rather than debate different points of view - 'I know he thinks he owns that project but I actually own it so rather than argue I am going to just behave as if I do and see what happens.' Finally, many times the rules of the game (roles, processes, policies) either don't exist, are articulated poorly, or don't reflect the current environment.

It is pretty obvious that lack of clarity can wreak havoc on a leadership team - team members and departments duplicating efforts or working at cross purposes and growing frustration that often chips away at trust. Here's an approach for increasing clarity on your leadership team. First, if clarity seems to be an issue then someone (like the team member mentioned above) needs to have the courage to call it out and see if the team agrees. If team members agree then they need to commit to working on making the implicit explicit - 'we commit to asking the next question of each other to make sure we have clarity when something seems vague.' Finally, when leadership teams trip up and discover that things weren't as clear as they thought, individuals need to assume positive intent and work together to gain clarity.

Don't let unnecessary ambiguity get in the way of your leadership team!!