“What’s your #1 challenge/priority/goal right now?”
It’s a question I typically pose to clients and I’m really just looking for a short, two or three sentence answer.
Except, more often than not, they launch into a stream of consciousness, bouncing to different topics like a pinball machine, including all kinds of extraneous detail that tells me more about their emotional state than the answer to my question.
I hold on, listening as closely as I can, trying to find the relevance until, several minutes in, I realize they’re not going to get there.
And if they’re communicating like this with me, then they’re doing it with others as well — their team, colleagues, clients, investors, board.
Here’s the thing: Having a mind that’s always going, always working has probably gotten you where you are. But a racing mind doesn’t lend itself to effective leadership communication. If you don’t have extreme clarity for yourself, how can you communicate to others with precision and context?
So when someone asks you a question, you answer in a way that:
…Assumes they know everything you know and what you’ve been thinking about.
…Reflects your state of distraction.
…Shows that you’re not really listening.
And then any one or combination of things happens:
⚠️They don’t feel heard or respected.
⚠️They don’t fully understand your answer but they don’t ask clarifying questions because they don’t want to sound dumb or be the target of your impatience.
⚠️They don’t get the context they need to be confident in making a decision so they’re already justifying what they’ll say if it doesn’t work out.
⚠️They feel demotivated because they feel like they can’t give their best.
⚠️They start to lose trust that you know what you’re doing and respect for you as a leader.
Here’s what the most effective leaders understand: clarity is not about talking more, it’s about saying more. And it pays huge dividends. It reduces friction, increases speed and extracts more of people’s potential. It’s like having a turbocharged engine.
You can’t create clarity on the fly though. It requires investing focused energy and time to manage your thinking, even if — especially if— you think you don’t have it.
Wondering how to do this when you’re already working nonstop, feeling overwhelmed and under pressure? Maybe I can help. Schedule a free leadership breakthrough call and we’ll create a game plan for you to develop searing clarity, intention and focus as a leader.