Skin Bags with No Heart
It’s hypocritical that we preach about purpose and authenticity and spend so much time worshipping ‘successful’ leaders.
Questions reveal priorities.
Most questions you hear focus on HOW to solve pressing concerns. How do I energize teams, delegate effectively, or lead successful meetings?
HOW questions are important, but shallow.
A team activity:
Begin your next meeting by asking, “What are we doing here?” It’s expected that you’ll hear responses based on current urgencies.
Provide an opportunity for deeper reflection.
Keep asking, “But what are we really doing here?” Allow for awkward silence. Some may get frustrated. Be patient.
You might get answers like, we’re growing our business or making a profit. These are all important. But keep asking.
Allow time for everyone to reconnect with MISSION – the deeper WHAT.
Leaders get lost in the weeds when all they think about is HOW TO do things. Feeling lost creates anxiety. Staying lost in the weeds drains hope.
An alternative team activity:
Ask your team three questions.
- “What brought you to this company?” Allow time for everyone to respond. Then ask question #2.
- “What’s important to you about that?”
- “Which of your strengths and talents are most relevant to the challenges and opportunities we currently face?
Energy in mission and purpose:
Provide people opportunity to reconnect with a clear WHAT (Mission) and a compelling WHY (Purpose).
Methods provide guidance. Mission provides energy.
Great methods apart from clear mission degrades people into tools.
HOW questions apart from WHAT and WHY questions invite us to become skin-bags without heart.
The pressure of HOW to get things done makes you forget the deeper MISSION. It’s a gift when you provide time for teams to think beyond the next activity.
Apart from a clear MISSION and PURPOSE a beautiful HOW sucks the life out of you.
How might leaders practice authentic leadership?
How might leaders provide opportunity for teams to reconnect with a clear WHAT and a compelling WHY?
AMEN Brother. I used to ask my folks WHY questions, which elicited very interesting responses. WHAT and WHY questions are great ways to begin and sustain a conversation. In the safety world, there is a method called the Five Why’s. When investigating an incident, the investigators ask themselves “Why” something happened five times. Try it sometime. It is tough getting to the fourth and, especially, the fifth Why.
Thanks Jim. Great seeing you here today.
I can imagine that the 5th WHY would be pretty tough. Why do you say that? 🙂
Starting with the 4th Why, one has to venture into realm of systems thinking and the 5th Why is all about exploring the systemic “Why” of the issue being investigated. The 4th and 5th Why’s cannot be hypothetical.
From a Leadership perspective, the 4th and 5th Why’s typically expose the actions and lack of actions of leadership making for interesting and somewhat uncomfortable conversations at this stage of the process.
Leadership that took time to build rapport with their team, first, will have more fruitful answers to their questions.
Thanks Gerry. Yes! Relationships matter.
The “WHY” is the kicker, and I think it’s very difficult to come up with a WHY that is not not true but also effective.
My organisation has a clear mission – it’s short, clear, accurate and easy to understand and apply.
The “WHY” is different: ask about the why and you get an assortment of things like “because it’s what the customers want”, “because we’ll be better if we do” (better at what, better than whom?) or the evergreen classic “because we’ll make money”.
All of those are true. But they do not inspire, illuminate or drive the mission
Should say “not only true but also effective”!
Thank you, I’m going to use this with the help, of my team.