Friday, May 31, 2013
Unclear is Nuclear
I was working out on the elliptical one day and watching the TV on the wall of the gym. During the news, I was reading the closed captioning and noticed the word "unclear". If you switch those first two little letters, you get the word "nuclear"...
...and then my mind EXPLODED with thoughts.
How frustrating is it when people, circumstances and life in general are UNCLEAR?
Sometimes, it makes you want to go NUCLEAR!!
I'm a worship leader in a church. That means one of my biggest challenges is the sound system. It's a challenge every week to hit that sweet spot for all the ears within it's path.
One thing I learned from a professional technician years ago was that most of the time when people complain about the sound being too loud, what they're really saying is that it's UNCLEAR. This means the mix is bad. It's frustrating to hear live music with a bad mix. That always means that clarity is lacking.
As a leader, in general, I've found that clarity is incredibly vital in leading others.
When I'm UNCLEAR, things tend to get NUCLEAR very quickly.
It's frustrating to be led by someone who is unclear about what they want from you and unclear about the general direction of things. It leads everyone nowhere and induces eventual chaos...all because of being UNCLEAR.
I've learned that most people that have placed themselves under my leadership are totally fine following me, as long as I give clear direction and have a clear purpose and vision.
When things are blurry, morale can drop in a hurry.
So, how can leaders avoid the UNCLEAR/NUCLEAR debacle?
Here's a couple of ideas...
If you're a leader, where's your dedication at right now? Are you as dedicated now as you were when you first surrendered to that call of leadership? Leading successfully takes more and more dedication the longer you lead. As a church leader, I, first and foremost, need to be dedicated to God's direction for my life and, in turn, to the direction of whatever He's calling me to lead. I need to be a leader that is more and more focused on my own integrity, especially as success continues. In The Message version, Psalm 19 says,
"The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road."
This means I need to be looking for God's signposts over everyone else's. For me, this means staying dedicated to reading and studying God's Word on a regular and, ideally, daily basis...a lamp for my feet and a light to my path.
I also need to be dedicated to the vision that God has given me. The vision I have as a leader is one thing that won't change. It's the hill I will die on. I have to keep that vision in front of me and allow that vision to motivate and fuel me when the going gets tough. Every great church leader has and will carry out a clear vision from God and will be dedicated to that vision.
Lastly, I need to be dedicated to the people I lead. Do you know the most important ingredient of what makes a leader? FOLLOWERS! If you call yourself a leader and no one is following you, then you're just going for a walk by yourself. Dedication to the people I lead means I have their back, especially when they have mine and it also means considering their thoughts and concerns, even if it means neglecting mine, at times. Dedication and loyalty is infectious and it always, always, always starts with the leader. When the people I lead are UNCLEAR about my dedication to them, things can get NUCLEAR in a hurry.
One of the biggest flaws that I've seen hold leaders back, possibly more than any other, is the flaw of not communicating well enough. How clear are you as a leader? Do the people under you really know what you expect of them? If they don't, things can get NUCLEAR!! I've seen it happen. It usually starts with the leader not communicating clearly what they want and when or how they want it. Expectations aren't met and BOOM.....the leader explodes. If the people under them are strong leaders, they explode. And like a room full of bombs, a chain reaction of explosion ensues. People get hurt. Relationships suffer. Morale sucks and productivity and vision evaporate into the mushroom cloud. It's a NUCLEAR reaction from simply being UNCLEAR and falling short in communication! There's an old saying that says when you ASSume....well, you probably know the rest.
As a leader, I've learned that you can sometimes over-state something, but you can never over-communicate something. When you over-state things, it means you're doing a LOT of talking. Communication is a two way street of talking and listening. I can't properly communicate to people, unless I know what they need to hear. I can't know what they need to hear, unless I know where they are. I can't know where they are, unless I listen to them. Al Pacino once said that listening is the most important aspect of acting, because it determines your reaction. For a leader, when you listen to your people, you will, in turn, know how to respond to your them. Communication happens when everyone, including the leader, is listening and responding in order to complete the task at hand. Communication has the power to clear things up like no other. 99% of the time that productivity and participation is low, it means that a leader is not clearly communicating the purpose, process and vision of what needs to happen.
So, as leaders, we need to evaluate our own communication and then we need to seek the evaluation of those under us. Leaders that invite critique, grow and lead those under them better and better. Ask your people how well you're communicating.
Leaders need to be CLEAR in their DEDICATION and COMMUNICATION
Leaders never get away with being UNCLEAR.
Things may sustain for a while, but something will eventually give.
You'll hear it - people will be confused, frustrated and they'll start to grumble. Before you know it, disgruntlement will set in.
Then, you'll see it - things won't get done, morale will drop and, eventually, so will the bomb.
The mushroom cloud will bellow up and reveal the need for clarity. Sometimes, it will be too late.
We can avoid the NUCLEAR, if we avoid being UNCLEAR.
You can't expect those under you to accomplish something that you haven't clearly defined.
Pursue clarity, starting with yourself, the leader, and then watch it domino into a positive wave leading to your end goal!