Friday, September 11, 2009

the ultimate question - WHY?

I ran several meetings this week that focused on one question - WHY? These meetings were the first gatherings of these groups, and so in order to move forward in our charge, we needed to understand the importance of what we were doing. And so I began with the question - WHY are we being asked to do this? WHY is this important enough to spend our time on? WHY should we even think about engaging in this task?

This was not an easy question to answer for the groups - they wanted to dive right into operations and tactics...they wanted to debate the merits of doing things one way or another...they wanted to push their agendas and pet projects. My job as the leader of the group was to keep asking the ultimate question - WHY? When someone brought up a tactical maneuver, I asked them WHY that was an important thing to consider...when someone began debating the merits of one goal or another, I asked them to defend their opinions by describing WHY their way was better in meeting the charge of the team...when they would answer the first WHY question, I almost always came back and asked again WHY that specific idea would be important. Yes, it drove them crazy, but by the end of the meetings, we had several AHA! moments.

Thsi is also the question I teach my students to ask, as it helps to develop them into critical thinkers. Asking WHY something is so...asking WHY people believe one way and not another...asking WHY certain events took place...asking WHY they themselves (as students) believe certain things...even asking WHY they need to study and learn specific subjects and subject matter - all of these are important in shaping them a fully functional human beings and lifelong learners.

As leaders, one of our jobs is to help people see the big picture - to help them understand the importance of the work in which they are engaged - to help them keep the mission and vision in mind - and to assist them in their own leadership development. I believe that one of the easiest ways to do this is to teach them how to ask the ultimate question - WHY?

So before you leave this blog, ask yourself WHY I might have chosen to write about this particular topic today - WHY you either agree or disagree with this premise - and WHY you even spent the last few minutes reading this post.

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