Care, clarity and connection are being forged in organizational crucibles in these less certain times. The hope, though, is that something new truly emerges from these situations of severe trial before the learning opportunities vanish and we fall back to familiar and less productive rhythms as leaders. I am a fan of alliteration and the power of three but that is not what drives my intent with any discussion about care, clarity and connection. Upon studying and working with organizations over the last two years in particular, the alliteration is prologue to these words coming to life as actual organizational imperatives. Leaders' ability to achieve organizationally may lie in the ability to demonstrate care, clarity and connection to their teams.
Care matters. I am grateful for the powerful voices of certain business leaders and influencers of late encouraging leaders to take a more kind and caring style with their organizations. Their megaphones can serve to affirm or legitimize what many leaders have known and demonstrate which is that authentic care for the team yields significant fruit. In the last week I witnessed care demonstrated by leaders of high achievement organizations in several instances but I simply highlight a few. I saw care manifest as a CEO's empathy for a team member's child care situation that required flexibility. I witnessed another leader widely recognize a team's effort and success in the face of unrelenting challenges while also soliciting input and feedback from another team. And I also saw care show up as a leadership group surrounded a team member with direct support and kindness to that team member who was struggling with a family loss and not operating at their normal level. Organizations are human systems and humans welcome a caring leader who does the work and makes them feel heard and feel cared for today.
Clarity is key. This is a biggie (leadership term). Clarity can be a safe haven, an inspiration or a touchstone in times of uncertainty. My team encourages clarity across organizations but here are a few ways to provide clarity to your teams when they need it most: 1) clarity of goals is wildly helpful. We need to be rowing in the same direction with a clear finish line; 2) clarity of roles is a must. When a team member is clear on their role and expectation, it creates less friction for achievement of organizational goals are the team member is more assured of how their role impacts and is tied to the organization's objectives; and 3) clarity in communication cannot be overstated. I think of a client of mine who struggles with this clarity between different levels of the organizational hierarchy. The willingness to communicate clearly may sometimes require communicating often to ensure there is alignment and confidence. The communication also drives a collective strength where everyone is operating from the same approach with the same goal in mind.
Connection as medicine. Not to be diminished or overlooked is the power of connection. This element may be the most challenging of all at the moment. There is not a CEO conversation that goes by for me without a mention or critical thinking of maintaining or reigniting connection within the team. Connection does not mean a 100% return to the office mandate; far from it. While I see most high achieving organizations adopting a flexible and team-friendly approach, the connection between members of our team is not limited to in-person interaction. Connection can also be a coveted by-product of good routines where teams establish a consistent approach to speaking, sharing, seeing each other via video or otherwise. Structure can be our friend here. Similarly, connection is driven in the relationship between manager and direct report. That relationship is so valuable and good managers are huge value creators so I often see managers establishing connection serendipitously, at schedules intervals, and in review cycles (hopefully quarterly!) to create the connection with team members. I would also encourage the CEOs and leadership teams of the world to create connection in a spirited and fun way to connect the teams to our organizational goals such as gamification or team-challenges.
Sure, alliteration is fun but the words could not carry a more intentional aim. Here's to more Care, Clarity & Connection!!