Tag Archives: Leadership

The Power of “Why”


Earlier this week, I wrote about the Importance of the question “Why?” In providing purpose to your team. That sense of purpose drives higher commitment and efforts on the part of the team, leading to better results.

But taking some time to answer “Why?” can do far more than just better results, it can also lead to increased organizational efficiency. Consider our previous example: I was asked to redo part of a project because it was not aesthetically pleasing. The reality is, I completed a task without understanding what the overall reason and desired outcome were. As a result, part of the task had to be redone, creating an inefficient use of time and resources.

But understanding “Why?” can do more than prevent inefficiencies, it can create efficiencies, too. By giving our employees more information, we provide them with the resources to make informed decisions, i.e. correct decisions. And if we empower them to make< those decisions, our leaders have more time to devote to more demanding things. This allows us to better utilize our limited resources and gives our employees a sense of autonomy – a whole other topic for a different day. Allowing your team to make some decisions – and, inevitably have some failures along the way – also allows you to identify natural talent that’s already on the team.

There are really all kinds of reasons to stop and answer, “Why?” Giving purpose, preventing inefficiency, creating efficiency, empowering, learning; these are really just the beginning.


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.