You Can’t Drive in a Why(t) Out

by | Dec 15, 2016 | Communication | 0 comments

Not long ago I had a frightening experience on my drive home from work. I was in the left of three lanes on I-4 east of Tampa. As is typical for rush-hour interstate traffic, all the lanes were full and drivers were enduring the 80 mile-per-hour caravan home.

Suddenly I noticed a puff of smoke underneath the car in front of me that quickly became a thick plume. My concern for the other driver morphed into concern for my own safety as it became difficult to see—then difficult turned to impossible. I eased off the accelerator and slid the car slightly onto the left shoulder but it didn’t help. I checked my right mirror to see if I could move over to the right lane but all I could see was white. Same in my rearview mirror. I was in a white out—and concern turned to outright fear.

I didn’t know where the smoking car was; I assumed he/she was slowing down or moving to the left shoulder but didn’t know for sure. I couldn’t see the car behind me so I didn’t want to slow too much too fast. Finally, after a difficult few seconds, I sensed the smoking car was moving over to the right and out of (my) harm’s way. I was well beyond the car when it made it to the right shoulder.

I was in a white out—and concern turned to outright fear

“And Your Point Is…?”

It’s unsettling when you can’t see where you are, where you’re going or where to turn—you can’t drive in a white out.

So What?

Imagine the people you’re leading as driving a car. There’s no way they can effectively operate when they can’t see where they are, where they’re going and where to turn. When we ask or expect people to operate without providing context, measurement, vision or explanation of purpose, we are effectively asking them to drive in white-out conditions.

The Big Picture

It’s been said that good leaders provide not just the “what” and the “how” (things are to be done), but also the “why.” Understanding why an action or strategy is in place gives people the context they need to be productive, to innovate and problem solve. Without it, they’re handcuffed and operating blind. Said another way, without the “why” they’re operating in a “why(t) out.”

Without the “why” they’re operating in a “why(t) out.”

Does your team truly understand “why” they’re doing what they’re doing? How do/can you know for sure?

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