Clarity vs Certainty

I have been given the humbling opportunity of leading others quite a bit in my life.  Learning what it means to be an effective leader is something I am tyring to constantly discover.  I continue to learn lessons all the time.  A big one I have been learning lately is about the distinction of clarity vs certainty.  I often find myself in situations (as a husband, pastor, friend, parent, citizen) where I am not 100% sure of what to do.  I know the principle that is to be followed and I have the information, but the direction I am leaning towards is not a sure thing.  I am realizing that as a leader I do not have to know the outcome for certain.  Certainty is not my responsibility.  Yes, I should calculate the odds and gather as much information as possible, but being certain everything is a “sure” thing is not leadership.  Truth be told, if we wait for no risk and the sure thing, we will often never act and/or the opportunity will pass.

However, I am learning that whether certainty is high or not, I must always communicate clearly.  People need, want and deserve clarity in the direction and vision a person or group is taking them.  People will follow you even if you are wrong some times, but they will not follow a person presenting a “thing” that has not been clearly conveyed.  I want to get better at this.  Be clear without being certain.

One thought on “Clarity vs Certainty

  1. In the world of information security risk management we have a similar dilemma: Accuracy versus precision. We strive to get as accurate of measurements or estimates as possible- understanding that precision will increase the cost of our efforts, extend the time it takes to complete our assessment, and the small increase in accuracy is really quite marginal. It is how we articulate our findings in terms of reasoning and methodology that makes up for not having to be precise – thus allowing a recipient of the information to make an informed decision. We cannot guarantee what decision will be made let alone guarantee that something adverse will NOT happen should they happen to accept the risk without mitigating the risk down to an acceptable level – we just do our best to inform and set loss event expectations.

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