Why I Focus on the Why
As a leader, I’ve always been a fast mover. I make decisions quickly. I take action quickly. I spot problems quickly, and I make adjustments quickly. While this has been immensely beneficial when I’ve started my companies, it hasn’t always made me the most popular guy in the office.
You see, when I move fast, I tend to expect other people to move just as fast. I know that I have all of the info, and I want people to just believe me and go all in on my ideas. When my team asks questions, I want to tell them just to trust me. After all, there’s a reason I’ve been successfully running the team for so long, right? Why ask questions when they can just leap into action with me?
But while my desire to move quickly has always come from the best of intentions, I was making a crucial mistake in expecting other people to do the same. As the leader of my team, I’ve always had more information than everyone else. I’m the one who has the big picture in perspective, and I’m the one who has had the most time to think about problems before I present solutions. So while it was easy for me to move quickly knowing that I have all of the information, the members of my team didn’t have that luxury.
Once I realized that my team deserved to do their work with the same information that I had, things started to change. The focus was not just what needed to be done, but why it needed to be done. Now, when I hold a kickoff meeting for our newest venture, I share the thought process behind each project and why I think it will benefit the company. I give my team time to think about the purpose of the project, and I ask them for their input.
Does it take longer to explain the why than to ask my team to blindly trust me? Yes. Is it worth the extra time to ensure we’re all on the same page? Absolutely! When my team understands the why of what we’re doing, everyone is more excited and enthusiastic. They’re better able to give their full effort because they understand the reasoning behind it. And when I slow down and ask for my team’s input on projects, they often present new, innovative solutions that I never would have come up with on my own.
Part of being a leader is being able to convey important information to your team in a way that helps everyone perform at their best. It’s not always easy, but by making the why the cornerstone of my businesses rather than only focusing on the what, I’ve found it much easier to put my team in a position to succeed.