In this world of constant change and redefinition, dealing with ambiguity has become a critical capability for leaders and their teams. Indeed, we need to find ways to forge ahead with confidence, even when the sands are shifting beneath our feet.
That said, too often, leaders use this as an excuse for not communicating clearly or giving clear direction. Instead of the boss owning responsibility for these things, fingers are often pointed at employees for not being able to perform in ambiguous situations.
Setting clear direction and communicating crisply and clearly, even in murky situations, is an essential responsibility of leadership. When people aren’t sure of what’s being asked of them, or their accountabilities are fuzzy, it slows them down – or paralyzes them entirely. They are afraid to make a mistake, go in the wrong direction, or step on others’ toes. This drives down productivity and morale, and increases costs to the organization.
If you are hesitant to give clear direction to your team because you’re unsure of the broader strategy, take the initiative to clarify it for yourself so you can clearly communicate it to the troops. If the organization’s strategy is in flux, then break things down into smaller, shorter-term pieces and direct your team to work on those things. Clarity is key. The clearer you are, the greater the chances your team will meet or exceed your expectations and feel better about their work.