Tag Archives: Why

Marine Corps. Leadership: Keep Your People Informed

Caring is sharing, especially when its information.

Caring is sharing, especially when it’s information.

“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”?

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Leadership is: Purpose

Don't roll the dice, just start off by asking "why?"

The secret of success is constancy to purpose. – Benjamin Disraeli

“Fail to plan, plan to fail” is one of my all-time favorite sayings. However, this is an incomplete view of success, this saying is more focused on the “what” rather than the “why.” In order for leaders to effectively lead, we absolutely must have and focus on the why before we can focus on the what! This is called purpose. I wish I could say this articulation of purpose was mine, but it is not. I heard this from Simon Sinek in an EntreLeadership podcast.

Related: Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action (Ted Talks)

Everything breaks down to purpose. It may often annoy many of our piers and leaders to ask “why, what’s the purpose,” but the truth is: purpose matters! Purpose gives meaning to responsibilities that would seem pointless with out it. This is actually the topic of Sinek’s book, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action.

When it comes to purposeful leadership we must make sure we are purposed in two areas:

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