4 Winning Strategies for Staying Clear from the Top

Aaron Marshall
3 min readJun 9, 2020


Previous: 4-Step Process for Getting On Mission Together

I’m sure you’ve noticed the correlation between clarity and expectations. Missed expectations lead to disappointment, frustration, and often disengagement.

Employees need leaders who are willing to be crystal clear.

And, clarity provides freedom to employees. When we know our role, we can own it. When employees own their role, they experience greater confidence and freedom. Thriving cultures depend on clarity — clear direction, clear purpose, and clear expectations.

If you want a thriving team, you’ll need to get clear from the top. Here are four strategies to get you started immediately:

1. Draw out your hidden culture.

If you need convincing — YES, this is a real thing. Most organizations have two cultures: the one we think exists, and the one that really exists; the way people talk about behaving, and the hidden reality.

This gap between how you say work gets done and how it really gets done causes tangible harm to organizational culture. To close the gap, you’ll need to unearth the hidden culture and bring it into the light — get clear about how people actually get work done, and assess it.

If those “hidden” processes make sense, great — make them explicit. If not, make it clear to your team. Explain why those approaches are counter to your intended workplace culture.

2. Talk about alignment.

Just like your tires and your back might need regular adjusting, alignment requires regular attention. As a leader, alignment starts with communication. Beyond communicating clearly, you’ll want to work with your teams. Make sure folks have clear goals. Make sure roles and responsibilities are explicit.

This will be especially difficult if your self-awareness slips. Knowing your own preferences and triggers will help you create safe space for the tough conversations you’ll need to establish and maintain proper alignment.

3. Over-communicate change.

Change is hard. Change is personal.

When things change, it’s your job to provide (or keep providing) trust, stability, compassion, and hope. Get creative. Look for tangible ways to bring these four qualities to life in your organization through strong, empathetic, over-communication.

4. Create safe feedback loops

Finally, you’ll need to flip “staying clear from the top” upside down. Feedback loops give you the power to listen. They offer the information you most need — as a leader — to maintain clarity within your organization.

Spoiler alert — listening alone won’t open safe feedback loops. How do you make those feedback loops safe? When is anonymity appropriate? When is it better to have one on one discussions or group standup meetings? If you want employees to share up, you’ve got to make it safe. As the leader, that’s your responsibility.

So, that’s it — get rid of the hidden culture, get aligned, over-communicate, and secure positive feedback loops. Piece of cake, right?

In thriving cultures, leaders practice being crystal clear. Every. Single. Day.

Are you ready to join them?

Next: 7 Authentic Ways to Accelerate Trust

Originally published at https://www.armarshall.com on June 9, 2020.



Aaron Marshall

Thriving family guy & founder w/ PhD. equips you to scale your impact. coaches execs/owners. teaches undergrads. COOs at zoo. surfs w/ his kids. armarshall.com