Good Leadership Is About Communicating “Why”

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In an ongoing crisis, clear communication is more important and more difficult than when things seem normal. Employees and customers are hungry for information, so we’re tempted to pull together presentations and communicate with urgency instead of with careful planning. But if we present without addressing our audience’s core questions of what, how, and why, we’ll sow more confusion than we bring clarity.

At my company, we rework thousands of talks each year for large brands and high-powered executives. When their communications are high-stakes, most of our clients come to us prepared with what needs to happen and how, but they’ve rarely answered the question why.

So, why answer why?

Let’s put it this way: If your boss comes to you and says, “I need you take on this additional project on top of your current work load,” what is your first question going to be? It probably has nothing to do with setting your alarm, re-arranging your schedule, or any other version of how you’re going to get the extra work done. When someone asks you to alter a current behavior, your first question is usually why? Because you’re not going to try something new or hard unless you’re motivated to do so.

Your audience is no different. If they don’t know why a new action is necessary, they won’t be motivated to help you. They’ll continue with their current comfortable behaviors, thank you very much.

 

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