Ever have that feeling where a calm comes over you and you know exactly what you need to do and why you need to do it? That’s clarity. Clarity is extremely important in both our personal lives and in our leadership roles. There is nothing quite like clarity to make a leader effective. Real clarity is born from a clear sense of purpose and acceptance of what is, not from wishful thinking or ego protection. It is honest, easy to understand, and calming; never arrogant, confusing, or mean-spirited. You won’t be surprised to hear that starting with “why” is a great way to gain clarity.

Clarity in leadership builds self-confidence, wins trust, and strengthens teams. People know what’s up and why. Direction and expectations are explicit and understood. Over time, clarity builds a momentum that uplifts and connects all involved. On the other hand, lack of clarity causes good leaders great suffering; spinning in circles, avoiding decisions, and never realizing the pleasure of full commitment. Though counterproductive and illusory, there are big payoffs that can sustain lack of clarity: 1) keeping options open, and 2) avoiding possible conflict.

Here are 7 techniques to help you gain greater clarity:

1. Find your courage. Think of times you had great clarity in the past. Think of what got you there. Think of who supported you. Surround yourself with those resources often.

2. Recognize what clarity feels like. It usually brings a sense of calm and peace – even when the clarity of a situation reveals something unpleasant.

3. Focus on why, not how. Getting into details can obscure clarity. For your topic, keep asking yourself “why” it matters and what good will be achieved, rather than allowing the myriad of “how” possibilities to confuse you. First things first.

4. Acknowledge what is clear. Assess if there are inconvenient or painful truths you or your people are clear about, that you wish were different so you pretend lack of clarity. Accept the truth and determine how to productively deal with the situation.

5. Say no for a bigger yes. Remember the sense of purpose that helped you get clear. Sustain that clarity by identifying small things to say no to, in order to say yes to something greater and aligned with that purpose.

6. Gain some altitude. Take a step back and look at the situation from a big picture. Notice what is working and what is not. Notice areas where you may be working against clarity.

7. Follow clarity with commitment. Clarity takes practice and accountability. Keep working on it. Keep asking yourself the important questions. 

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