Key Point: We need to become more comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. One great way to do that is to challenge others with great questions. Our teams bring greater commitment and energy to work if they know the why behind what we ask of them. Not too much different than raising a toddler.
Since leadership is less about us and more about the impact of the team, we need to take into consideration how we reach, how we motivate, how we communicate with, and how we lead others. Yes, WHAT I need to have my team accomplish is important, but no more important than how I invite, yes, invite them in to help. This is all about the WHY!
One of the better books I’ve read in a while was Simon Sinek’s, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Others to Take Action. The author flipped me upside down by emphasizing and starting with why instead of what. Clearly, because I am a planner at heart, this was not the most comfortable approach for me. His messages reminded me of the earlier work of Jim Collins. In his book, Good to Great, Collins encouraged leaders to bring in the right people, get them on the rights seats of the bus, and only then, proceed with the strategy or plan.
Both authors resonated with me because I have been always been big on mission, values and purpose. In many ways I was headed in the right direction, but I would have been more effective starting with the question of why. Striving to understand both authors, I’ve realized I have a lot more work to do, especially since most of the work I do is all about influence than direct control. How about you? How much of what you can accomplish is about traditional command and control vs. influence? How much more do you lead teams within a matrix or flatter company structure?
Knowing the value of this new path, let me share some of the why’s we choose to focus on executive coaching and development vs. leadership training in our firm:
- We choose to focus on leadership and strategic outcomes, as opposed to the activity of training program measurement.
- We believe that developing organizational leadership is much easier when the executives and owners model the way.
- We see that executive leadership is lonely at the top. There aren’t many who are willing to be brutally honest with you.
- We are committed to holding executives accountable, along with the needed support and guidance during the journey.
- We have seen that competency models and leadership development mean very little if the executive isn’t truly invested and committed with their development role.
There are more answers to our why, but this is enough for our purpose today. I continue to learn, process, and implement as I work with organizational leaders who aren’t where they want to be, but get the big picture. What areas might you benefit from the most by asking why before what?
Dan Loichinger is the founding principal & executive coach for Loichinger Advantage LLC. Their firm offers proprietary executive coaching programs like LEADERCoach, CHANGECoach, EQCoach, TALENTCoach; and a depth of executive coaches clients can establish the proper fit with. Coaching is available for individuals, groups or as part of an organization-wide talent management initiative.
In addition to our proprietary coaching programs, we leverage assessment tools, executive round tables, external tools and resources, and finally, prepare leaders for continued growth after the coaching has been completed. Clients value our ability to improve their strategic insight, advance organization change, gain sustainable results and increase competitive advantage when working with them throughout Madison & southern Wisconsin.