The Importance of Why

Arrow in the woodBecause I said so!” Ever hear that growing up? I certainly did on more than one occasion, typically when I had exhausted my parent’s patience with me.

Unfortunately, many leaders adopt this behavior as part of their leadership style. What most don’t realize is that using the dictator style of management doesn’t bring out the best in your team. In fact it can be counterproductive. To really motive your team, you need to share why what they are doing is important.

Adam Grant, professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania recently conducted an experiment that illustrates this point. In his study, a group of university call center workers soliciting donations from alumnus were given a chance to meet and talk with some of the recipients of scholarships funded by the callers’ efforts.

As you may expect by the end of the experiment, there was a substantial difference in the amount of time spent on the phone and the total money raised by each caller who had spoken with scholarship recipients. In fact, those call center works who had spoken with scholarship students spent twice of much time on the phone and raised over 2 and 1/2 times the amount of money as those callers who didn’t talk with the scholarship students. You can read about Grant’s study here.

Understanding why is important. Help your team be more productive and stay motivated longer by helping them to see why what they are doing is important. Don’t just point the way, share with them why the journey is important and they’ll amaze you with the results.

Joe Webb

Joe Webb

Joe Webb is a principal and serves as the COO for For IT Pros, a Nashville-based IT Leadership training, coaching and consulting company.  Joe is an 8-time recipient of the prestigious Microsoft MVP award.

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