My oldest son Tyler always had to know the reason for anything we wanted him to do. When we would ask him to do something he would always ask “Why?” Sometimes I explained my rationale and sometimes, out of frustration, I would reply “because I said so, that’s why!” Today, Tyler is a partner in an architectural firm and still asks “Why?” frequently.
“Why” provides motivation to succeed. Understanding the importance of our work, or the “why” motivates us to get better results in what we do. Good management tells, explains, and demonstrates the “why.”
When a manager can explain the logical reason for doing things a certain way, it just validates that the company is doing something right. “We’ve always done it that way” seems to suck the air right out of the meeting! Wake-up call!
Followers easily fall into the trap of doing things the same way without any justification. Learning the reasons behind policies and decisions can prevent people from repeatedly performing tasks blindly and repetitively.
Bosses just managing and employees just doing what they’re told is slowing being challenged by the people “doing.” Fresh, innovative ideas are challenging the traditional managerial business practices.
Pay attention to the employee asking “why”. Their interest and curiosity could develop into a leadership role in the company. Encouragement and serious consideration of their new ideas may be just the spark that carries the company to the next level.
As quoted by author Diane Ravitch: “The person who knows ‘how’ will always have a job. The person who knows ‘why’ will always be his boss.”