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Designing Shared Understanding; Driving Results

How many times have you left a meeting expecting specific results only to experience disappointment and frustration because the task was either not completed, not on time, not comprehensive enough or not to the standards you expected.

I recently had the opportunity to sit with a senior leadership team who were passionate about the work they do, highly skilled in their areas of expertise and great conversationalists. I experienced two and half hours of rich conversation, innovative thinking, a great deal of transparency throughout the process and an expressed desire to be successful. It truly felt like a dream team – intelligent, collaborative, well-intentioned, and creative.

Over the following few weeks, it was clear from my coaching conversations with each of these individuals, there was no ‘shared understanding’ of who would do what and when, or even a clearly defined, measurable result so they could measure and celebrate their success. And then the finger pointing started. “I thought you were going to do that. No, my understanding was that fell under your department. Well, you said……”

Has that ever happened to you? And it doesn’t just happen at work, does it? Have you and your partner experienced that same situation? And it has nothing to do with caring, expertise, knowledge, intention or any of the other wonderful traits the team I referenced demonstrated. It has everything to do with accountability.

‘Clear roles, responsibilities and measures supported by conversation and honest feedback ensure a shared understanding that drives results.’

We are personally accountable to ask questions to clarify our roles and responsibilities, to ensure shared understanding before we leave the conversation. Who will do what, when, how and why? As leaders we have an accountability to ourselves and to others to ensure everyone leaves the conversation knowing exactly what is expected of them, with absolute clarity of the end-result and completion date. That allows us to measure our success, builds the trust on the team, and gives us causes to celebrate, which in turn ensures sustainability.

  • As a leader, what do you still need to learn and practice relative to achieving results through shared understanding?
  • How do you ensure everyone leaves your conversations/meetings with a clear sense of their role and responsibilities in what’s ahead?
  • How do you hold yourself accountable to clarify, check in, support and ensure your team achieves success?
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