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Playing in the Fog

One of the eeriest games in American football history was played on December 31, 1988. The Philadelphia Eagles met the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago for what would come to be known as the "Fog Bowl."

Late in the first half fog began rolling off Lake Michigan into Chicago's lakefront stadium. Players couldn't see more than 15 yards in front of them. The end zone was lost in the haze. Visibility became so bad that the press was invited to watch the game from the sidelines because they couldn't see anything at all from the press box. Still Phil Sheridan, a reporter who was there, said later, "we couldn't see the opposite sideline or either end zone from the middle of the field," he remembers. "Occasionally, players would run by, but it was impossible to know where they came from or where they disappeared to."

Eagles Head Coach Buddy Ryan said, "I could hardly see across the field, and I’m sure [the Bears] couldn’t, either. They’d run a play, and I didn’t know who had the ball or what the heck was going on.”

How many people in your organization feel like they are playing in the "Fog Bowl?" They show up to work, do the best they can, but don't really know what the heck is going on. They don't understand how their role fits in the big picture. And if they're honest, they'd tell you they're not really sure what the big picture even is.

Creating clarity for our followers is one of the fundamentals of leadership. But doing it well takes more time and attention than many choose to invest. It's easy to forget that everyone doesn't have access to the same information we have. They won't get a glimpse of the picture on the cover of the jigsaw puzzle's box if we don't show it to them.

Ensuring clarity throughout the organization means breaking it down to the granular level. Each employee should be able to say, "I know how my success leads to our success." They should be able to draw a straight line between what they do every day and how it helps achieve the organization's vision.

Making the effort to ensure clarity is worth the investment. When team members have a firm grasp on how their role relates to the vision and strategy of the organization, they're more motivated, more productive, and they make better decisions.

Take the time to think through how of each of your team members' duties help achieve your vision. The next time you meet together talk with them about it. Ask them how they see it. Find out how much clarity they already have, and what they still need to understand. You'll be surprised the difference that comes from being able to see the end zone.


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