Leadership is More Than Leading

I find that one of the most common missing ingredients in the leaders I work with is adequate training. I don’t mean that they haven’t received adequate training. I mean they fail to provide adequate training to those they lead.

Leaders like to lead. We love to come up with a vision and then marshal the troops to get the job done. But as leaders, we often fail to explain the whybehind the what. The result is often a team that knows what to do but has no clue why they need to do it – or do it that way.

Over the years, I’ve found that one of the most important things that I do as a leader is to pass on the reasons behind the decisions I make and actions I expect others to take. It’s the difference between raising up a team of worker bees or a self-directed team capable of maintaining and operating within a consistent corporate culture and organizational DNA that is so important to long term success. It’s also the difference between a team that can function well in my absence or one that is totally dependent upon my constant physical presence and detailed direction.

So how do you on the whys as well as the whats? It’s really rather simple. Start with asking yourself why? And then ask 3 to 5 more whys? Write down your answers. Then let your team in on your thinking.

  • Why did you make that decision? And why is that?
  • What is it you want a staff member to do? And why is that?
  • Why do you want it done that way? And why is that?
  • And so on.


Asking the “Why” and then letting your team in on your thinking will go a long way toward creating a team that is capable of making the decisions you’d want them to make even when you can’t be physically present – a self-directed team that makes decisions and carries out its work based on principles rather than memos.

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Larry Osborne

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What say you? Leave a comment!

jim — 05/28/13 7:49 pm

I find the "why" question goes better with paid staff than volunteers. When attempting to develop an equipping culture, volunteers are more susceptible to feelings of tension if they haven't already thought through their own 'whys'. And attempts to probe beyond the first 'why' response may raise their guard and see staff as potential threats to their service than partners. And they'll wonder if there's a right or wrong response. paid staff are much more vested into the vision and naturally expect some whys.

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"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
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Thank you for this article! I'm the pastor of a small church. My gifting is in teaching and we are known for aiding Christians in becoming Biblically literate. Visitor's often comment on God's presence being very real in our services. But we just don't seem to be growing. I have some soul-searching, etc. to do and this article provides some solid ground from which to proceed. Thank you again.
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