Just One Thing: Always Add Clarity to Challenge

Just One Thing

The “Just One Thing” series is predicated on the assumption that change takes place one step at a time. Like throwing a pebble into a pond, your one small action can have a far-reaching ripple effect at work for you, your firm and of course, in your personal life.

Too many strategies and corporate plans (and even our personal improvement plans) outline lofty challenges in heady words, but they fail to provide the clarity necessary for us and for our teams to move forward in an integrated fashion.

These statements …a mission, a vision, a strategy sound beautiful on the surface, but like a beautifully wrapped empty box, once the surface layer is peeled back and we peer inside, there’s nothing there for us to seize. And then we add our own interpretation.

Why are we doing this project?

What is this committee here for?

Why does this team exist?

What does adopting this strategy mean for me, my work and for the work of my team members?

We all process and interpret statements, words and ideas in a different manner…and to different conclusions about what they mean for us.

Without striving for clarity, the leader leaves her intentions open to interpretation and at risk of promoting disjointed actions.  This is the opposite of her intent.

Challenge without clarity breeds confusion. Effective leaders always add clarity to challenge.

Don’t miss the next Leadership Caffeine-Newsletter! Register here.

For more ideas on professional development-one sound bite at a time, check our Art’s latest book: Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development

Download a free excerpt of Leadership Caffeine (the book) at Art’s facebook page.

New to leading or responsible for first time leader’s on your team? Subscribe to Art’ New Leader’s e-News.

An ideal book for anyone starting our in leadership: Practical Lessons in Leadership by Art Petty and Rich Petro.

To talk about a workshop or speaking need, contact Art at via e-mail at [email protected]

By |2016-10-22T17:11:29+00:00June 13th, 2012|Just One Thing, Leadership, Strategy|6 Comments

About the Author:

Art Petty is a coach, speaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. When he is not speaking, Art serves senior executives, business owners and high potential professionals as a coach and strategy advisor. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.


  1. mark allen roberts June 13, 2012 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    Another good post Art,
    Your questions help teams from just going through the motions and getting back to discussing things that matter .
    Mark Allen Roberts

    • Art Petty June 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Mark! We spend a great deal of time on things that don’t matter. Anything that helps us get back to the right issues is important. Cheers, -Art

  2. Shawn Logue June 15, 2012 at 8:08 am - Reply

    A great reminder about the power (and necessity) of clarity. In my experience, poorly identified outcomes are at the root of most unsuccessful projects, whether they be personal or professional. As a business coach, I believe the most effective tools in my toolkit are powerful questions, especially those that demand a client stop and seriously consider WHAT they are setting out to accomplish and WHY.

    And like most great writing, clear outcome statements are free of $10 words and jargon.

    Great post, Art!

    ~ Shawn

    • Art Petty June 15, 2012 at 8:13 am - Reply

      Great comment, Shawn! From projects to people, clarity is essential. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. Art

  3. MAPping Company Success July 2, 2012 at 3:17 am - Reply

    […] it proves to be more difficult.” Art Petty, from his Management Excellence blog, presents Just One Thing: Always Add Clarity to Challenge. Here’s Bernd Geropp, from More Leadership, Less Management, with Micromanagers and the […]

  4. Duncan Brodie July 3, 2012 at 1:39 am - Reply

    Enjoyed this post and so true. So many times I have seen people have a never ending list of roles and responsibilities (42 in one instance) and then their bosses wonder why they never achieve anything.

    When I work with clients I always ask them to define their top 3 priorities and then to ask their boss what he or she sees as the priorities. Amazed how often there is a disconnect.

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.