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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Management

The One Word that Turns a Boss Into an Inspiring Leader

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There’s so much to learn and master when managing a team: how to give feedback effectively, how to run an effective 1:1, how to delegate, how to develop your team, and more.

One of the secrets I’ve found in managing effectively is also one of the steps that managers skip most often. It’s making sure you always talk about the why.

Sharing a decision with your team? Tell them why you made it.

Choosing not to take their recommendation for next steps? Tell them why you are going in another direction.

Prioritizing one project over another? Tell them why that makes sense for the business.

It’s easy to skip this step, and focus on just communicating a decision. So, why should you take the time?

1. Your Team Will Learn More About Your Priorities

One of the most frequent things that’ll happen when you start explaining why you made decisions is that you’ll start sharing more context with your team. The reason you decided to go with A versus B is often that there was also something else going on that they didn’t have visibility into, which was relevant to your priorities.

By sharing that, you’re helping them connect the dots, learn more about how the business works, and understand what is more or less important to you, your boss, and the company.

2. Your Team Will Learn How to Make Better Decisions Themselves

Once your team has more context and understands your priorities and why you make decisions, you’ve created a feedback loop!

To pick a silly example, if they brought you two options for snacks and you picked fruit over cookies, they could bring you a number of different options next time. If you explained the decision as being tied to a number of people on the team being gluten-free, they’ll bring you options that fit that criteria and start thinking about the needs of the team as part of the decision. If you made the decision based on budget instead, well, you may get a number of cheaper cookie options next time.

You get the idea. You’re empowering your team to learn and do better next time, which is what management is all about.

3. Your Team Will Be More Engaged

When you share what’s happening, your team is informed. When you also share why it’s happening, they’re engaged. When done best, talking about the why ties your work and theirs back to a bigger goal, purpose, or mission, not just the task at hand.

This is what creates the internal motivation and desire to do the work at hand, which I’ve found leads to more creativity, thoughtfulness, and ownership.

I don’t know about you, but I’d love a team that’s constantly learning, making better decisions, and feeling more engaged. So managers, I challenge you for the next week to take the extra few minutes to explain why you’re doing, deciding, and prioritizing the things on your plate.

Tell me how it goes on Twitter @acav.