Leading with Clarity and Purpose at Work AND at Home

Caneel Joyce
5 min readSep 15, 2023


Ah, miscommunication and conflict… the bane of every team’s existence. Luckily there’s a solution. Clear agreements are the superhero cape that saves the day by preventing those two from wreaking havoc on your team’s progress.

When agreements are unclear, people naturally interpret them differently, leading to miscommunication.

For example, if someone says, “I need that report ASAP,” what does “ASAP” mean? Does it mean within an hour, by the end of the day, or sometime next week? If the person who receives the request doesn’t know the answer to this question, they might feel stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed, leading to a breakdown in communication or projects falling through the cracks.

Then, the miscommunication can snowball and gain momentum, people can get defensive and conflict can rear its ugly head. If the person who received the request doesn’t deliver the report within the expected (but unspoken) timeframe, the team member who made the request might get upset and begin to make up their own stories about the situation and assume that the other person is lazy, unreliable, or incompetent. Hello, drama.

Let’s nip avoidable drama in the bud.

Clear agreements are your secret weapon but it’s so simple we often forget to make those agreements in the first place. With any agreement, a common understanding of what’s expected has to be established. When everyone involved in a project knows what’s expected of them, there’s less room for misinterpretation.

Teams (including families!) can focus on executing their tasks rather than worrying about whether they’re doing the right thing. This, of course, leads to greater efficiency and productivity and less drama and conflict.

So, how do you make clear agreements?

It’s simple, really. Establish the what, who, when and how.

Step one: Define the “what.” What is it that you want to accomplish?

Step two: Determine who is responsible. Don’t be the person who assumes someone else is going to do the job.

Step three: Coordinate when. It’s not a deadline, it’s a lifeline! Establish a clear timeframe for completion and stick to it like glue.

Step four: Figure out how you will know whatever it is you want to complete was completed. Define the end result in a way everyone understands.

Clear agreements establish clear boundaries. When everyone knows what they’re responsible for, there’s less chance of people stepping on each other’s toes. When there’s no ambiguity about who’s responsible for what, there’s less chance of people feeling defensive, imposed upon, or confused.

Think of it this way: Have you ever made a vague agreement with someone, only to find that it falls apart almost immediately?

Maybe you agreed to meet a friend for lunch “sometime next week,” but you never got around to actually setting a specific date and time. Or perhaps you and a coworker talked about collaborating on a project, but you didn’t define who would be responsible for which tasks, and the project ended up getting delayed or derailed.

In a business context, unclear agreements can result in missed deadlines, incomplete tasks, wasted resources, and dissatisfied customers. This can harm the reputation of the business and ultimately impact its bottom line.

In a personal or family context, unclear agreements can result in hurt feelings, resentment, and damaged relationships.

Unclear agreements also lead to a lack of accountability. Without clear agreements, it’s difficult to hold people accountable for their actions or to measure progress towards a goal. This can lead to a lack of motivation, as people may not see the point in putting in effort if there are no clear expectations or consequences for not meeting them.

Overall, unclear agreements can create a lot of unnecessary stress and tension, and they can prevent individuals and teams from achieving their desired outcomes.

Fuzzy agreements are like ticking time bombs, just waiting to explode into confusion, frustration, and disappointment. But when you make clear agreements, you diffuse the bomb before it ever has a chance to go off. You lay out the who, what, when, and how of the agreement in explicit detail, leaving no room for ambiguity or misinterpretation.

Let me give you an example of how creating clear agreements can even help your personal or family life.

Let’s say you’re planning a family vacation with your spouse and children. Instead of just saying “let’s go on vacation,” you sit down and make clear agreements about the vacation details. You discuss:

  • What location you’ll be going to
  • When you’ll be going (specific dates)
  • Who’s invited
  • Who will be responsible for booking flights, accommodations, packing bags etc.
  • When everything should be booked and paid for by
  • How much you’re willing to spend on the trip

By making these clear agreements, everyone in the family knows exactly what to expect and can plan accordingly. No one is left wondering about the details, and there is less room for miscommunication or misunderstandings. This can help to avoid conflicts and drama and can ensure that everyone has a good time on the vacation.

If you and your spouse have agreed to split household chores, making clear agreements about who will do what and when can help to avoid arguments and resentment. Everyone knows what is expected of them, and there is less room for misunderstandings or unmet expectations.

Who doesn’t want a happier household?

Clear agreements aren’t just a nice-to-have; they’re a must-have if you want to live a life of purpose, productivity, and fulfillment.

At their core, clear agreements promote trust. When you make an agreement with someone, it shows that you value their time and effort. By outlining the specifics of the agreement, you demonstrate that you’re committed to following through on your promises. This strengthens relationships, both personally and professionally.

Clear agreements are like the shining North Star guiding you through the darkest of nights. They keep you on track, focused, and accountable, ensuring you follow through on your commitments and achieve the results you desire.

Without clear agreements, you’re like a ship without a compass, wandering aimlessly and getting tossed around by the winds and waves of miscommunication and conflict. By establishing clear expectations you can stay accountable, build trust, reduce stress, and increase efficiency.

So whether you’re a CEO, a manager, a team member, or just someone who wants to get things done, make sure you master the art of creating clear agreements.

Your future self will thank you!



Caneel Joyce

Transformational executive coach to founders & CEOs of fast-growth companies. Mom, wife, speaker, former professor & startupper. Caneel.com, The Allowed Podcast