Casino Heists and Clarity in Leadership.

I love the scene in Oceans 11 where George Clooney meets with Matt Damon’s character in the bar to ask him if he wants to be a part of the heist on the Bellagio, the MGM Grand, and the Mirage.  All he does is put a plane ticket on the table in front of Linus, Matt Damon’s character.  Linus is puzzled: “who are you?”  Danny Ocean: “I’m a friend of Bobby Caldwell’s.  For Linus, Bobby Caldwell could only mean one thing: a Vegas heist job.  Danny looks intently at him: “You’re either in or you’re out, right now.”

That kind of leadership is the kind that is rare today, the kind that is missing, and the kind that is critically needed: the kind that calls people to a clear commitment and a clear decision, and gives them the freedom to either accept or walk away.  To many times, in leadership situations that I’ve observed, leaders don’t call people to anything clear, and as a result, there is no accountability for thousands of directions that the people in their organization are going. Its no wonder to me that one of the most important leadership characteristics that is often talked about today is clarity.  People need to know exactly what they’re committing to, even if they don’t know exactly how they are going to get there.  Even though I’m young and with limited experience, it seems to me that people respond extremely well to clarity in leadership: that is, to clear directions and clear instructions in spite of uncertainty.  For Linus, the challenge was very clear:  we are stealing 100 million from three casinos in Vegas.  Here’s the plane ticket.  You in?

Lack of clarity makes it hard to buy into a vision.  I know several leaders who seem to have a “vision,” or a dream of what they want to do, but lack the clarity that it takes to rally people around their cause.  By clarity of course, I mean specifics about the end goal.  If people have a clear view of the destination towards which they are heading, they will come up with ways to arrive there… people are smart like that.

I’m not John Maxwell, Andy Stanley, Steven Covey, or Zig Ziglar by a long shot… but I know that in my life and in my leadership and ministry at the church, I have a deep appreciate for and motivation to follow leaders that are able to give clarity in spite of uncertainty.  As the saying goes: “as you gain clarity, you gain influence.”

Pencil your plans.  Write your vision and destination for your life and leadership in ink, so that you can say to people with full confidence

“are you in or are you out?  Right now.” 


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