What’s On The Test?

Had a conversation with my son last night about studying for a test. He was a bit discouraged because it appeared that the test he took didn’t have anything to do with the material covered in class. His question to me…

How can you study for a test when you don’t know what’s going to be on the test?

Great question. I love it when my kids ask these types of questions.

At this point, the antagonist in this story would be the teacher. I realize there are two sides to this story so I’m not going to use this post to throw the teacher under the bus. Instead, I want to focus on the question.

Imagine a race where the runners show up at the starting line, put their feet in the blocks, and wait for the starter to fire the gun. But just before that happens, one of the runners stands back up, raises his hand, and asks, “Where’s the finish line?”

Or think for a moment about a new employee who sits down with his boss. The boss informs him there will be a performance review on how he’s doing in his job three months from now. The employee nods his head in agreement and gets up to leave. Right before he walks out the door he turns his head and asks, “And what is my job exactly?”

This isn’t necessarily a student issue or a runner issue or an employee issue – it’s a leadership issue.

We might assume that a student should know what’s on the test, that a runner wouldn’t enter a race without knowing where the finish line is, and that a new employee had better know the job he or she was hired to do.

But if the leader (teacher, starter, employer, etc) hasn’t done a good job of clarifying these things – where does the responsibility lie? Which makes me want to start asking some good questions of my own:

Am I clear as a leader?
Am I crystal clear as a leader?
Do the people I lead know where they’re going?
Do they have a good idea (a GREAT idea) of what is required/expected/depended upon of them?

How clear have you been as a leader to make sure your people know…

…what’s on the test?
…where the finish line is?
…what their job description really is?

Clarity fuels momentum and a sense of purpose. A lack of clarity leads to distrust and low morale.

Just ask my son.

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