Thursday, January 03, 2013

Being Clear vs. Being Right

Fast Company's Jessen O'Brien recently interviewed Ping Fu, the cofounder and CEO of 3-D software company Geomagic.   Ping Fu just wrote a new book titled Bend, Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds. Fu's story is quite remarkable.  She grew up during the Cultural Revolution in China.  She suffered brutal treatment at the hands of Mao's regime.  Fu survived those tortuous years and came to the United States to become Inc. magazine's Entrepreneur of the Year in 2005.  In this interview, she offers some leadership advice that I found to be quite thought-provoking:

I found in my career that it is better to be clear than to be right. A lot of times, I find leaders want to be right and they think being right is what gains respect. I find being clear is what gains respect--if you’re clearly wrong, people can correct you, and if you’re clearly right, people can follow you.

Here's why I think she makes a great point.  If someone isn't making a clear point, here is what you should be asking yourself:  Do they really have a sound strategy, vision, plan?  Lack of clarity may be a simple problem of  articulation and communication.  However, in many cases, a lack of clarity speaks to much deeper problems.  An inability to articulate a plan or strategy clearly means that someone actually has a muddled vision.  They haven't thought it through with the type of precision required to perform at a very high level.  In many cases, it means that they are trying to do too many things at once, or they are pursuing inconsistent objectives.     

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