'Top Gun: Maverick' and 5 Ways to Ensure Mission Clarity
Leading with clarity is a skill that many struggle with, yet is really the bedrock of compelling communication.
There's a scene in the new movie "Top Gun: Maverick" in which Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is given a high-level mission by his unit commander to destroy a very specific target.
Maverick interjects, reminding the Admiral that the success of the mission is not just to hit the target but to return every pilot back home safely.
The Admiral looks surprised by this extra detail and the clarity Maverick added.
Leading with clarity is a skill that many struggle with, yet is really the bedrock of compelling communication. Being perfectly clear helps us understand what we want to say, as well as what we've already put forward, while also ensuring that our audience doesn't misunderstand or misinterpret our message.
All of us want to know we can rely on others to get things right and that they will follow through on their commitments. Clarity frequently serves as this antidote to uncertainty, making our teams more calm and confident about where they stand.
So how do we ensure clarity with our message?
1. Read our message aloud to hear if it sounds natural. Make sure there is nothing missing — always second-order think. What happens after the completion of the mission?
2. Rewrite it using different words or phrases until they flow together smoothly. Make our points clear using the Hemingway method of simplicity, directness, clarity, freshness and naturalness.
3. Check for vocabulary words that might have multiple meanings or require more explanation. Don’t try to sound smarter, always try to be clear.
4. Identify any jargon that might be too hard for some to understand. One small error can cause a derailment of purpose.
5. Identify any sentences in which the meaning is unclear because of any grammatical errors. How often do we misunderstand a text chat with our close friends? Most of the time, it's from a lack of correct sentence structure and the perfect use of commas to aid transitions.
As Dr. Gift Gugu Mona writes in her book, The Effective Leadership Prototype for a Modern-Day Leader, "Great leaders know how to curtail any confusion because they are clear about what needs to be done and how it should be done.”
Understanding "the how it should be done" was what Maverick taught the Admiral — and us at the same.
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