Why Clarity Matters in Your Leadership

Individuals can live without certainty from a leader, but not without clarity.

–John Maxwell

The story is told about the father of a vacationing family who came across a large sign that read, “Road Closed, Do Not Enter.” The man proceeded around the sign because he was confident it would save them time. His wife was resistant to the adventure, but there was no turning back for this road warrior.

After a few miles of successful navigation, he began to boast about his navigational skills. His proud smile was quickly replaced with humble sweat when the road led to a washed-out bridge.

He turned the car around and retraced his tracks to the main road. When they arrived at the original warning sign he was greeted by large letters on the back of the sign, “Welcome back, stupid!”

How many times have we thought- even as leaders, that we knew for sure what we were doing or talking about, only to discover that we were wrong the whole time? I’ve been there plenty of times. Chances are, you have as well. Now what?

In leadership, it’s important to remember that we are not required to have all of the answers. That ought to be refreshing. But for the sake of the people we lead, let’s talk about what’s needed most which is clarity. Here are a few reasons why it matters.

Clarity provides context

Often it’s not answers to big questions that are the most important thing your people need, but context to the smaller ones. They may not see the big picture as you do. So rather than trying to tackle the big picture, break it down into bite-size pieces that they can make sense of what matters today.

Your people will be more apt to move forward with confidence if they have clarity and context about what they are doing and why.

Leadership Tip: Keep it simple.

Clarity inspires camaraderie

Your people will rally around a common goal and mission. When you people have clarity about what it is, their role in it, and why it matters, it makes all the difference. As you cut through the confusion and any indifference that might exist, you can move your people to a new level.

At every opportunity, give your people clarity to what’s going on around them. They will appreciate it and from there you can build stronger morale.

Leadership Tip:  Keep them together.

Clarity builds trust

Trust is your leadership currency. With it, you have unlimited possibilities before you. Without it, you are done. When you provide clarity, even during uncertain times and when answers are in short supply, you are building relations with your people based on their trust in you. During challenging times, your people need to be able to look to you with the assurance that you will always tell the truth – even if it hurts, knowing you have their best interests at heart.

Leadership Tip: Keep them close. 

Final Thoughts

We live in a time when clarity seems to be in short supply. As a leader, be mindful that you don’t have to be the answer-man to every problem. Nor should you pretend to know it all. But in your role as a leader, you can give clarity and that will always serve you well.

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Doug Dickerson
Doug Dickersonhttps://www.dougdickerson.net/
DOUG has been speaking to audiences in the U.S. and overseas for more than 30 years. Doug knows how to spin a story, make you laugh, and how to challenge your traditional ways of thinking about leadership. Most of all, Doug is committed to helping you grow as a leader. Doug is a graduate of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida and studied Clinical Pastoral Education at Palmetto Baptist Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina. While his leadership expertise has its roots in ministry and teaching. His background also includes public relations and business. Doug understands the necessity of leadership development and why creating a leadership culture in your organization is critical to your success. He is the author of four leadership books including: Leaders Without Borders, 9 Essentials for Everyday Leaders, Great Leaders Wanted, It Only Takes a Minute: Daily Inspiration for Leaders on the Move, and Leadership by the Numbers. As a speaker, Doug delivers practical and applicable leadership insights with a dose of humor and authenticity that endears him to a wide range of audiences. Doug is a John Maxwell Team member.


  1. Great articled Doug. I learned as a person with a title, if I am the smartest guy in the room, we have a problem. People will elevate their game when they know what they think and have to say matters. In order for people to excel, the goal, or project or direction must be clear, direct and too the point. In other words keep it simple.