Effective Leadership: Lead with clarity and boldness

I have asked my good friend and pastor, Bobby Williams, to join me today to talk about the importance of leading with clarity and boldness. Bobby is the pastor of Ridge Church in Oak Ridge, TN and is a husband and father of two. He is active in the leadership community both locally and regionally and regularly discussed leadership topics on his blog.

KB: When I brought up this blog series on effective leadership, the first quality that came to your mind was leading with clarity and boldness. Why is this quality so important to you?

BW: It’s important to me because I see that lack of clarity is the one thing that will sink a leader fastest. A leader has to be clear in two areas 1) Within themselves and 2) with others. I have learned the hard way that lack of clarity and boldness gets you nowhere fast. Boldness is a by-product of clarity.

KB: Clarity and boldness are two unique qualities. What’s the difference between the two and how do they relate in the realm of leadership?

BW: As stated above, I think boldness can be a by-product of clarity. Consider what it’s like walking through your house in the dark; in the dark you THINK you know where things are until you step on a LEGO your kids left out. So you step without clarity of where you’re going and walk gingerly. However in the light, you walk with boldness because it’s clear as to where you are going and how you’ll get there. I want the leaders that I follow to be clear about where they’re taking me and bold when it comes to taking each next step.

KB: French writer and philosopher Francois Gautier says this about clarity: “More important than the quest for certainty is the quest for clarity.” As a leader, what’s the difference between these two quests? Is Gautier right? Is clarity more important than certainty?

BW: I think he is right. Certainty still leaves some doubt. Clarity means you have a clear picture of what is to be. Certainty doesn’t make me bold, but clarity can.

KB: Can you provide some examples of leaders that you have seen leading with clarity and boldness and what it is that sets them apart in this area?

BW: I automatically think of Andy Stanley. In fact he gave a talk once on leading with clarity. In it he says, “Complexity is the enemy of clarity, so keep it simple.” He says to keep clarity in his leadership, he constantly asks 3 questions; 1) What are you doing? 2) Why are we doing it? 3) Where do I fit? The answers to these can lead a leader to clarity. The only thing I would change here is to start with answering why before what.

KB: Can you elaborate on why you would start with answering why before what?

BW: Sure…I say why before what because why will keep you in the game. For example…Why we planted our church: so people far from God will awakened to life in Christ. What we do: Reflect the Gospel. Knowing WHY you do something is more important than knowing what you’re doing. Knowing the answer to WHY keeps me getting out of bed in the mornings.

KB: What advice do you have for other leaders in spurring them on to lead with clarity and boldness?

BW: I would go back to the questions that Andy asks and start there. Anyone can do that and to remember that when you find your clarity, you can be bold about your next steps.

A huge thanks to Bobby for helping out with this series on effective leadership. You can check out his blog or follow him on Twitter at @bobbywilliams.


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