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  • Writer's pictureEmma Armstrong

The power of asking WHY! Leadership Matters!

As leaders, we want to know the whos, the wheres, the hows, but, do we always confront the big word of WHY?

The word "why" in some contexts is confrontational and has the potential to bring negative truth to light, however, if we stop to think for just one moment, the small word "Why" can bring about some fabulous "BIG" changes.

We don't know what we don't know, we can't change something if we don't know it's not quite right, and as leaders gliding through layers of excuses is time-consuming, all of which we could avoid if we just ask the question, WHY?

Leaders should focus on “why” people do what they do versus “what” they do.

Asking the powerful question “why” forces people to think deeply. They can then peel back the layers of excuses and get to the root cause of the problem. For example, if staff have failed to meet a goal and are asked “why” questions rather than “what” or “how” questions, they might give responses like, “I didn’t have enough time.” So the Manager must then go further and ask, “Why didn’t you have enough time?”.

When the staff say they have too much on their plate, the Manager, once again, should ask “Why?” The final answer: These staff members are given many tasks by their Managers and possibly cannot distinguish between what is and what isn’t a priority. With the real problem revealed, the Manager can now take appropriate action, perhaps setting up a time to help them prioritise their many tasks.

There have been many a time in which asking why has helped me to understand why someone wishes to discard and not take their medicine, There has been many times in which I haven't quite understood the reasoning behind certain decisions other healthcare professionals have made, for example, around equipment and staffing and used the word 'Why' to help me advocate for others.

The best Managers and company leaders are those who understand that asking “why” is a highly productive teaching method. And teaching—rather than preaching—and challenging people to think is what stimulates discovery, solutions, and growth.

Have you ever heard of the butterfly effect?

So the goal of any leader is to become a great teacher and develop the necessary skills. This includes not only asking “why” but then also giving staff an appropriate amount of time to determine the real answer for themselves. That could be as simple as waiting a few minutes for a response in a meeting, or perhaps sending everyone off to think about the issue, research the reason for the problem, and return at a later time with an answer.

Great Managers also teach by holding their staff accountable for not just the problem’s answer but also its solution. When staff are used to going to the Manager for answers and direction, they actually transfer the ownership of the problem from themselves to the Manager. Consequently, they can then blame the Manager for the goal’s shortcomings and failure. It’s no longer their fault because they didn’t provide the solution—the Manager did, and even worse, this could lead to staff feeling demotivated and lose confidence in themselves.

Assigning staff with the task of uncovering the reason for their missed goal or creating a viable solution to a problem or challenge puts the responsibility back where it ultimately belongs. Creating a team that is focused, works together well and seeks to work collaboratively to think wider about problems that may arise in the Health and Social Care setting is so incredibly important! Something we talk about regularly in T.E.A Training.

Think back to your favorite teacher, someone who really made a difference in your life. Did he or she give you all the answers? (No!) Did he or she make you look for the answers? (Yes!) Did this teacher hold you accountable? (Absolutely!) These are the ways great leaders help people learn, cultivate the potential of those around them, and enable growth.

So, there you have it, some great reasons to not be scared to ask the question of 'WHY'! Be bold, be brave, be you! Ask Why, you never know how quickly it may help you to reach solutions and support you to help others to reach their full potential.

If you wish to learn more about what we do here at T.E.A Training, or would like more information about our leadership courses, please reach out to us today!

We cant wait to hear from you!


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