The most effective leaders provide their employees with a heartfelt portrayal of the WHY, a precise description of the WHAT, and freedom on the HOW.
The WHY encompasses a vision in a way that matters to people. As Howard Schultz, the Starbucks tycoon once said, “People want to be part of something larger than themselves. They want to be part of something they’re really proud of, that they’ll fight for, sacrifice for, that they trust.”
The British-American organizational consultant Simon Sinek’s passable Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2009; a good summary) identifies the difference between “giving direction and giving directions.” Great leaders, he explains, motivate with the WHY, a deep-rooted purpose, before defining the WHAT, the product or service, or the HOW, the process.
The latter, the HOW, is to be deprioritized—effective leaders leave it to their employees to figure out.
In contrast, ineffective leaders provide specificity around HOW to complete a task but fail to share the big picture, the WHY.
Don’t live in the weeds. Have faith in the ingenuity of your employees. Give much latitude in how they do things.
Idea for Impact: Define the job. Explain the responsibility. Equip your people with the tools and skills they’ll need. Establish expectations. Identify the standards. That’s the essence of delegation.