The Four Benefits of Crystal-Clear Clarity

photo by Markus Spiske at

As a young man, I attended a church where a new senior pastor had been hired. He immediately redefined the vision for the church. The logo changed. He plastered the vision statement all over the building. He even talked about the vision every Sunday.

But as the months progressed with more talk and little results, questions from the congregation emerged. They asked how the vision would get turned into reality.

The senior pastor didn’t have answers. The elders didn’t have answers. The staff didn’t have answers. They had created a vision. But that wasn’t enough.

Several years later, I revisited the church. The same questions were still unanswered. And the church had shrunk in size by more than fifty percent.

Unfortunately, this leader is not an isolated case. Over and over again, you see Christian leaders — in the ministry and the marketplace — who provide a vision. But they fail to provide clarity to the followup questions.

What are those questions? Every team and organization needs clarity around 6 questions:

  1. Why has God put us on the planet? (Vision)
  2. What has God called us to do in the next 2–15 years? (Mission and Metrics)
  3. How has God called us to behave? (Values)
  4. How does God define success for us? (Strategy)
  5. What are the priorities God has for us? (Goals)
  6. Who is responsible to do what? (Plans & Execution)

If you fail to provide clarity, you will create four disastrous effects that I’ve written about previously:

  • Confusion
  • Chaos
  • Conflict
  • Quitting

But a different story emerges when you provide clarity to your team or organization. Clarity leads to four huge benefits.

1. Clarity leads to consistency.

I recently traveled with my family to Vietnam. We stopped in a Starbucks to pick up a souvenir cup… and to grab a cup of coffee (it was a 12 hour time difference!).

I was astounded at the consistency. The Cafe Verona in Vietnam tasted the same as the Cafe Verona that I regularly drink in Texas. Why? Because Starbucks has been crystal clear on what they expect every store’s coffee to taste like. They have provided clarity in what they expect Cafe Verona to taste like. That clarity has produced consistency.

The same is true of your leadership. When you provide clarity to the 6 questions, your team can deliver consistent results. If you do not provide clarity, it leads to confusion.

2. Clarity leads to creativity.

Sports provides regular examples of how clarity leads to creativity. Creativity happens on the football field or the basketball court because players know what is expected: they need to score and prevent the other team from scoring; the boundaries are clearly marked; the rules are clearly spelled out.

As a result, coaches can develop creative plays. Players learn to create new moves. Teams can improvise.

In your leadership, your team’s creativity will thrive when you have provided clarity. What is the problem you need to solve? What are the boundaries of behavior? What is the budget they have to work with?

When you provide clarity to your team, you provide them with the chance to think creatively and develop new ways of solving problems.

3. Clarity leads to conflict.

This might seem confusing, but it’s important. Both clarity and the lack of clarity leads to conflict. But it’s a different kind of conflict.

Clarity leads to healthy conflict.

A lack of clarity leads to unhealthy conflict.

What’s the difference?

In unhealthy conflict, teammates attack each other.

In healthy conflict, teammates challenge ideas.

Our church’s Connection Ministry falls under my leadership. In the last few months, we’ve been clarifying the 6 questions for our team. It has led to hours of conflict as we’ve tried to gain clarity around these critical issues. But it’s healthy conflict. We battle ideas and opinions. But not each other.

4. Clarity leads to commitment.

When you do not provide clarity, people quit. No one wants to work on a team that promotes confusion.

But when you provide clarity, people commit.

Imagine applying for a new job. You ask your potential boss what you will do. Your boss replies that he’s not really sure. You ask to see a job description, and he can’t produce one. You ask how you will be evaluated, and he can’t tell you. You ask what his expectations are, and he isn’t sure.

Would you commit to that job? Probably not. It would scare most people into running away. And rightfully so. You don’t want to commit to a job where you don’t have clarity about what your job entails.

But if that potential boss can provide you with a clear job description, with clear expectations of the characteristics of the person they are looking for, with a clear plan for the first 90 days of work, you are more likely to commit to that boss. Clarity leads to commitment.

Your leadership reflects Jesus Christ — for good or for bad. Are you providing clarity to the people who you lead? Whether you lead a small team, a large, multinational organization, or a family, you must provide clarity. It will lead to consistency, creativity, conflict, and commitment.

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Questions: Have you ever worked for someone who provided clarity to these 6 questions? What effect(s) did that have on you?