Coherent Leadership

“Re-state to yourself what you believe, then do away with as much of it as possible…” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, November 25

Chambers was talking about spiritual coherence. While I am a spiritual being and do consider things from a Christian perspective, I also see all things in a leadership context.

Agreeing on the importance of coherence, I discovered the term has at least 3 meanings.

Understandable: Leaders must be clear and understandable or our influence will never create results. If those you might influence give you the deer-in-the-headlights look, they don’t understand what you’re talking about or what you expect them to do. They may not understand the results you seek.

Consistent: Websters calls this logically or aesthetically ordered or integrated. When we’re inconsistent we’re difficult to understand or follow. Those we might influence will be conflicted because our inconsistency creates conflict or confusion in direction. “But didn’t you just say…” Keep your #1 value your #1 value. In cliche speak, the most important thing is to know and do the most important thing.

Pure: Complexity causes confusion. Chambers’ quote above is about purity. Remove everything but the most important thing. Make every action align with the core purpose. If everything is important, nothing is. Boil everything down to it’s purest. It might also be defined as simplicity or integrity. When your objective is a prime number, like a prime objective, those you would influence can make an uncomplicated (simple) choice.

In the end, coherent leadership is simple leadership. Chambers’ idea was that we need to eliminate the unimportant and in the end, only one thing can be “most important.”  Restate what you believe about leadership and get rid of as much of it as possible.

We are coherent when our actions line up with our words, when people can understand what we’re trying to do and when we are sincere and uncomplex.  Our actions will align with our most basic, primal leadership principles.

How can we simplify? What can we eliminate?  Those words "one thing" are trigger words for me.

Like the great book I recently read,  The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, consider your end picture of success. Then, once you have that idea in mind, what is the one thing you can do right now that makes everything else either easier or unnecessary? What’s stopping you?

Focus on the most important thing. Remember coherence eliminates confusion and enables impact. Go for it!

Photo © Natali_ua iStockPhoto

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