The Importance of “Why?”


Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve constantly asked the eternal question – “Why?” My mother will probably tell you she wishes she had not humored me so much back then.

Often times we interpret this as questioning our reasoning or authority. The reality is, this is frequently not the case. “Why?” might just as easily be asked in order to understand. I recently asked my own boss the question and got the look. I had to explain: there is a reason she asked me to redo something a certain way. On the surface, it appeared to be a rather arbitrary matter of personal preference. I needed to understand why so that I didn’t make similar mistakes in the future.

Frequently, as leaders and managers, we understand what is going on. We know the objective, the process, and the reasoning. We just want our teams to complete the task and accomplish the objective. If we don’t share at least some of this information with our teams, however, the tasks can seem pedantic or merely a matter of preference. That makes them easy to dismiss without too much – if any – effort or consideration.

On the other hand, a little but of “why” goes a long way in helping the team to appreciate the importance of what is being asked of them. “Why?” creates purpose: to our clients, our company, and our team.

The next time you get asked, “why?” take a moment to give some context to your team. They’ll be much happier to have a purpose to their work and their commitment will certainly be higher.