“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw
If your parents were anything like mine, you were taught to answer the question “why” with the ever frustrating phrase, “because I said so.” As we aged other leaders, while using different words, have solidified this same approach. In fact, most leaders look at their team the way Tennyson described the Light Brigade, “…Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die…”
However, the WHY matters, especially to the Y generation.
It needs to be said, not everyone is going to support the why, and that is OK. Every good follower knows to discuss all you want behind close doors, but display a unified front in public. If a team member doesn’t get that principle as a follower, them asking “why” is not the real problem.
“Why” isn’t an adolescent inquiry asking the leader to prove or justify their position, although it can be just that at times, more often it is a search of how certain tasks, goals, or objectives fit into the bigger picture. When a team member asks “why,” it is possible that a disconnect between the vision and current actions has occurred for them. If we are staying true to our vision, answering the why should not be a problem.
Keeping team members informed is a part of leadership!
Here are 3 actions to help your communication with your team:
1. Be proactive – If you as a leader can communicate how current actions are accomplishing the stated vision before team members can ask why, you will minimize the occurrence of others asking, “why are we doing this?”
2. Build trust – There will be times when you can’t explain why. Garnered trust and respect allows a leader to sincerely explain that they can’t give the why.
3. Beware of rumors – When we allow rumors to exist within our teams and organizations, we are allowing someone or something else to lead. Rumors dilute vision and mission.
What other actions help team communication?
Why do you believe leaders struggle with others asking “why”?