Clarity and Your Leadership Narrative



Clarity is a critical element of knowing the value you bring to an organization or to a team. It’s a key component of your Leadership Narrative. It’s about knowing and articulating your unique talent, or as Laura Garnett calls it, your “inner genius,” that which you do better than anyone else.

Clarity is about determining what you’re good at, what you like to do, and what you don’t like doing. Related to this, is how you do what you’re good at; how you approach the issues and challenges you face.

Determine Your Inner Genius

It can be hard to assess your inner genius, primarily because what you do well, you do intuitively. You don’t think about what it is you do best and how you do it. You see a problem, jump in and solve it. However, it’s really important to be able to articulate how you add value to a project, a team, an organization. You can’t assume your boss, a prospective employer, or a client will figure it out on their own.

When I meet with a client for the first time, I ask a series of questions that are designed, in part, to get clarity around their Leadership Narrative. I’ll ask about their favorite job and what was most appealing about it. I’ll ask what they liked least about it as well. I’ll want them to tell me their top strengths; and conversely, their weaknesses. I’ll ask them what they are most proud of in their career. Then I’ll ask, “in a sentence or two, what is it you do well?”

Their response to that last question typically provides a great deal of clarity around their Leadership Narrative.

Some folks though, are stumped by these questions. They’ve just proceeded through their careers doing what they do, without giving it much thought. They may have a sense of what they’re good at and what they enjoy doing in their job, but they can’t articulate it in terms of their value.

These folks are often encouraged to take the StrengthsFinders assessment. This online assessment takes less than an hour and, at the end, they get a report on their top five strengths or themes. Armed with these themes, we can determine their unique talent and the value they bring to an employer.

Clarity = Competitive Advantage

Being clear about what you do best and how you do it, gives you a competitive advantage in the world of work. You can position yourself as an asset to an organization — someone who adds value — as opposed to a commodity who relies only on their skills.

If you rely solely on your skills you blend in with the crowd. It may feel safe in the crowd, but you don’t get noticed. Value stands out; it’s what makes you unique; it becomes a strong part of your Leadership Narrative. Skills are necessary, but not sufficient, they don’t trump value.

Value relates to accomplishments rather than tenure and responsibilities. It appeals to the people who care, the people who make the decisions to hire or retain you. Skills may get you in the door, but it’s your value that will get you noticed, hired and promoted.

Clarity = Intention

Being clear about the value you bring helps define the role you seek in your work and in your life. Writing down your value strengthens your intention and provides greater clarity.

Can you respond to these questions?

  1. What are my passions, what gets me going to face the day? (These can be personal, professional or both. What is it you like to do more than anything else?)
  2. What are my top 5 strengths? What is it that I’m really good at? (Don’t include attributes like “loyal,” “punctual,” “quick learner.” Include value-added strengths.)
  3. What am I most proud of in my career?
  4. In a sentence or two, what is it that I do well?

 Write them out. Hit reply and let me know what you’ve come up with. I’d love to hear from you.