January 11, 2024
I often found myself in situations where I received instructions or tasks that didn't resonate with me. Either I didn’t feel they were necessary or I thought it wasn’t a good use of time, creating a lot of friction in my productivity and focus.
Thanks to the book Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink, I finally figured out what was missing — I didn’t understand the reason why I was asked to do these tasks.
I didn’t have context.
Too often are CEOs, managers, or leaders delegating without clearly explaining why it’s important. Likewise, those on the receiving end aren’t asking why they’re being asked to do so.
Leaders feel entitled and team members aren’t empowered to ask why.
This is problematic for (at least) 5 reasons:
1. Slows Innovation
Following orders without question prevents creative ideas and better solutions from surfacing.
If you don't understand why you're doing something, it's impossible to think of better ways of doing it.
2. Lack of Ownership
Team members care less about their work if they don't know why it matters. They won’t feel excited or try their best.
This can also make them feel less important (than they truly are). But when team members understand why it's important, they feel more like a part of the team.
3. Poor Decision Making
Without understanding the big goal, team members can incorrectly think something is a good idea, leading to time wasted on the wrong things.
When everyone knows why they are doing something, they can make smarter choices that are good for the goal and vision.
4. Resistance To Change
When things change at work without explanation, team members create friction and slow down progress (often not intentionally).
Change is scary if you don't know the reason for it.
Knowing why helps everyone see the value the change will create.
5. Missed Learning Opportunities
Knowing why decisions are made helps everyone improve and learn good decision-making. It encourages critical thinking.
This is crucial for professional development and growth.
Fostering an environment where asking 'why' is encouraged not only promotes a learning culture but also prepares employees for greater responsibilities.
So, how do you implement this practice?
It’s simple. Here are 3 ways of doing so:
- Add the ‘Why’ to your project plans. For a copy of my project plan template, Click Here
- Whenever you’re delegating a task, explain why.
- Whenever you’re sent a task and don’t know why, ask.
This transparency fosters trust and ensures that everyone is moving in the same direction for the right reasons, empowering your team to act with purpose.
Go ahead and try it:
- Explain the Why
- Demand the Why
- Add the Why to your project plans
See you all next Thursday 👋
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