Wise leaders constantly ask “why.” Not because they find joy in questioning everything but because they want to ensure the thinking beneath the decisions is sound and the motivations beneath the actions are pure. Instead of mindlessly executing, they think deeply about what is beneath the execution. Instead of simply implementing, they care about the theology and philosophy underneath the implementation.
Here are three reasons wise leaders must ask “why”:
When leaders help the team think about the philosophy beneath their decisions, unity and harmony increase, as the team knows “why” they do things. There is a conviction beneath the action, a shared sensed of mission underneath all the activity.
Without thoughtful leadership, team alignment and harmony are threatened. Here is how it happens all the time: a team member has an idea, runs it quickly by the leader, gets a nod, and starts to execute. Another team member does the same. People are off to the races, executing and implementing. Often there are underlying philosophical differences beneath the surface. The result of not asking “why” is a fragmented team headed in a myriad of unrelated directions.
A leader who asks “why” is a leader who thinks strategically, who abhors activity divorced from identity and mission. Great leaders constantly ask, “How does this align with who we are?” and, “How does this advance our mission?” Without asking these questions, an overarching strategy will quickly fade and mindless activity will dominate.
The fruit and consequences of leadership decisions are often not felt today. Wise decisions bear fruit in the future; thoughtful leadership serves people tomorrow. The future results of not asking “why” and merely executing are a plethora of unintended consequences as execution haphazardly takes place.
So ask “why” often. You will lead a more aligned team, enjoy a more focused strategy, and avoid future unintended consequences.