Leading with Clarity

Stephen Hawking called the 21st Century the century of complexity. How we deal with complexity will define our enterprises. Providing clarity in complex environments is vital. We must reduce complexity and increase the collective wisdom of our organisations to embrace the opportunities amongst the ever-increasing pace of change.

Target Audience

This 3 day course is aimed at leaders and managers but is equally applicable to technical team leads. Delegates will preferably have experience of leading teams within industry and be able to share experiences good and bad to enrich the course through interaction.

Do you respond to this quote:

You have your hand on the tiller and the throttle (or the lanyards to adjust the sail to catch the wind) and you are watching the compass to steer the ship, but every so often you have to put your head up to check the point on the horizon to which you are aiming, and above all you are always learning to be a master mariner.

Course Topics

This course outlines a proposed approach to help clients recognise the limits to the economics of scale, understand the law of diminishing returns and realise the economics of specialisation.

No leadership course is unique, it is about learning from everything you can. This material is drawn in part from Patrick Lencioni’s book: Silos, Politics and Turf War. Please read the book before attending, you will find it useful. Elements from Ken Blanchard’s book Leading at a Higher Level have also been used, along with Ian Thomas’ presentation The Spoor of Success.

This material has been blended with Howard Thomas’ work on Clarity from Complexity, Why Teams Don’t Work, High Performance through Continuous Improvement and Pursuit of Value.

Course Overview

While this write up may seem lengthy it is worth reading even if you don’t attend the course. The idea is that Howard Thomas will blend the material together bringing his own uniquely informal but inspirational style to bear; getting high level intellectual ideas across and providing practical, achievable guidance.

Above all this programme is about getting your organization to do less whilst producing more. Companies have become too complicated for any sane person to believe that the addition of the latest big industry vogue initiative will improve matters.

High performance requires real teamwork. A team has a single unifying goal – people play for the badge. The rules of the game limit the number of players. You don’t add more players to perform better, you train the players or you replace them.

The team is focused on the result and adapts fluidly to deliver the result, the smaller the team the more fluid the adaptation, Every team has a game plan, structures and procedures exist and are necessary to a disciplined team, but the team is not bound by procedure.

The team improvises and is supported in doing so, in fact the entire hierarchy turns upside down during dynamic interactions in the field. The whole team knows it exists to support the people who currently have the ball because they are the only people who can deliver for the team.

This ability to switch between the day to day formal working relationships and disciplined environment (training, preparation and administration), and the dynamic demands of game day, define a high performing team.

We talk a great deal about teams but seldom work as real teams. In fact, most of our day to day activities, the training, preparation and administration can be achieved without teamwork. Most tasks are simply projects and can be achieved by a classic hierarchy. This is not team work.

This realisation that people need to understand the difference between strategy and tactics, preparation and performance, between the training and the game, is commonly absent from most commercial companies.

Competition for budgets and resources surface between departments and individuals, causing people to work against one another. Whether this phenomenon is called politics, or siloed behaviour it is destructive.

In arises because executives fail to provide clarity. Trying to eliminate risk by compliance adds complexity instead of reducing risk by pursuing excellence. With an imbalanced focus on risk you forget to encourage high performance.

High performance people join a team they believe in, they fit with the culture of the team. Without this cultural fit, high performing individuals become destructive as they strive to create the culture they want.

So most organisations manage, they cope and make do, as this is normal they are not uncompetitive but they are not setting the pace and getting ever more efficient. Consequently, they are at the mercy of the markets. They don’t have an efficient model to ride out the storms and they suffer the ebbs and flows of the market.

Life in an average organisation is very up and down. Think about it, how much time is spent in meetings, making it up as we go along? If we have described your organisation, attend the course. A decision needs to be made: Are we trying to be the best average organisation or a high performance organisation?

If you want to be the best average organisation, concentrate on improving management but don’t talk about leadership and teamwork. If you want to be a high performance organisation recognise the need for game plans, process. All of what we do needs to be planned, tested and repeatable.

Learning Objectives

The course is divided into six sections:

  1. Consistency
  2. Mastery
  3. Simplicity
  4. Integrity
  5. Strategy
  6. Clarity

The programme runs over three days, covering each topic in half a day. you will learn how to blend the four principles of consistency, mastery, simplicity and integrity into a strategy that provides clarity for your organisation.


Howard Thomas has advocated practical approaches to handling complexity for over 20 years. He has a unique ability to make the complex clear for his clients and audiences.

He combines an in depth technical background with a wide ranging business experience but is probably best known for his engaging style of presentation.

He is formally technically accredited as a Fellow of Engineers Australia and a Chartered Professional Chemical Engineer and has worked on hydrocarbon installations all over the world, from roles as a technician to executive consultancy.