The Five Whys technique is used by many leaders, but I recommend using caution if you’re continually asking “Why?” when your people have ideas they bring to the table.
If you are a leader, your job isn’t always about challenging your people and to make sure they’ve thought everything through. Your job is to assist them in in seeing ideas through to the best of their potential. You can’t be a leader that serves others by always testing them. Sometimes your people are looking to have a conversation, not a pop quiz.
“Why?” is sometimes a copout question for a half-hearted leader. It’s a question that makes us feel intelligent and powerful. It takes no IQ to ask “Why?” and it takes no leadership ability to ask “Why?” If you’re not careful, you’ll only put up speed bumps and roadblocks as you continue to drill away with the question. In some cases, you might even lose your best idea because you use “Why?” irresponsibly.
Beware “Why-ing” people to death. They come to you, the leader, for insight or to create opportunities they may not be able to create on their own. Don’t turn them off by using the wrong tool at the wrong time.
You can’t be a leader that serves others by always testing them. Sometimes your people are looking to have a conversation, not a pop quiz.
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This blog was written by Nick Sherwood for the Navigator Leadership Corporation.