Why is WHY so important?

(c) Ela Nowicka, model: Wojciech Drapella


For most co-founders it seems quite obvious what a company is meant to be doing, why it was created. They share a vision, a mission and the values of the organization. It’s often very clear to each one of them what should be done in the current year and even the next year. They understand WHY current tasks are carried out right now and WHY people on the Team are doing this and not something else.

This state of mind, this situation, often makes them blind to the fact that employees (people who have joined the company at its later stages) do not share the same knowledge. What are the results of this? It’s overall frustration- where leaders become bottle necks and micromanage, founders are getting tired and burned out, employees suffer from lack of personal development and due to inexistent empowerment. This is when the organization goes down. It’s a virus that spreads rapidly, yet at its early stages, also quietly. Quietly and rapidly enough to be unnoticed for so long that it’s hard to cure the disease.

Even if a company does not collapse from this burden, it’s a definite killer to the growth and development of individuals. As the Team loses the vision and the mid to long term goals, leaders become blockers which is frustrating and tiring too. There is one great exercise I often conduct on leadership workshops. It shows perfectly how the same message can be delivered in a very efficient way vs the totally opposite if ‘the WHY’ is conveyed badly. The same task, yet results are totally different. Not only the measured score of each Team varies from 9-10 vs 1-2 out of 10 being max, but the level of side-effects such as joy & fulfillment vs frustration are massive. Both Teams get the same task, yet the way it’s being delivered matters significantly.

If you are on the founder’s Team and your company is growing, make sure all your mid-managers and peers in the management Team actually FEEL the difference of great and badly delivered ‘WHY’. Without it, you’re risking a lot of your company’s success and your personal sanity.

What was the most memorable delivery of ‘the WHY’ (good or bad) made by your manager? What are the examples that are worth sharing with others? Share them in comments, pay it forward!

In today’s post I’d really like to give YOU the stage & voice. How can others learn from your experience?


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How empowering people makes you stronger.

(c) lenadrapella.com – Support & Empower

It may not be an obvious thing for everyone, yet I often notice during my Sauna mentoring sessions that leaders are frequently challenged with loneliness and lack of support from their management teams or shareholders.

As much as this situation is very common for founders, there are a few simple steps everyone can follow to accommodate this issue. If I were to mention the most important ones I’d select:

  1. Find a peer outside your organization.
  2. Hiring the right people.
  3. Trusting those you’ve hired.
  4. Empower those you’ve trusted.
  5. Convey the ‘Why’ effectively and frequently.

I’ve already written about no.1. where I encourage you to have a few people in your close network who have been through your challenges recently and can help you to avoid making the mistakes they’ve made. I’ll focus on hiring and trusting (delegating) in a separate post, but today I’d really like to start a discussion about the fourth of the five: Empowering those you’ve trusted.

Why is empowering others so important? In the vast majority of cases you already have some people in your Team. They rely on you, your expertise and experience, but also  your support and empathy. How you will treat your employees determines not only their and your happiness, but what’s important from a business perspective – their efficiency, motivation and engagement.

You’ve surely heard or experienced dreadful micromanagement or a feeling that either your boss or you are a bottleneck to the team or the whole organization. That often happens when you’re not conveying the ‘why’ well enough and when you’re not empowering your employees. I’ll focus on ‘the Why’ in my next article (edit: it’s here), but even a perfectly delivered bigger picture will not work if you don’t empower people.

When, a few weeks ago, I asked a few entrepreneurs and startup managers about their habit of one on one meetings I was quite surprised with their answers.  Out of 44 who answered, 73% indicated that they are meeting with all their direct reporting employees at least once a month, regardless if a meeting was requested or not. Most probably this high ratio is skewed a bit since it’s declarative and the group where I asked the question consisted mostly of open minded & modern entrepreneurs. Also, asking such a question publicly may demotivate those who don’t meet their employees at all to stand out, since there isn’t much to be proud of here. Regardless of that, I am happy that the culture of 1:1 meetings seems to be much more common in Poland than it used to be 5-10 years ago.

How about the content of such meetings? Are these effective and what are they actually for? From discussions underneath the quoted FB post as well as my independent mentoring sauna meetings it looks as if, although it’s quite common to already be meeting with employees, quite rarely are these used for the empowering and development of employees. They are very often ‘project updates’ meetings. As much as task updates and checkpoints are needed, it’s important to remember that these meetings are best if they are used for empowering people, making them stronger, more independent in the future. It’s to provide them support, not control. Guidelines, not solutions. It’s a great moment for making sure that the wider context is well understood. This is the moment when a manager can offer his/her assistance, show appreciation, but also make sure that employees are growing and are happy with what they are doing within the team.

Of course, 1:1 meetings cannot be the only way of direct interaction of a manager with their team, but this is a sacred moment that, when conducted properly, are very much awaited by employees.

Have you heard of a 4:1 rule? It’s believed that one should hear 4 positive encouragements in order to absorb properly (effectively) 1 negative bit of feedback. Positive motivation is, in most cases, better than negative. It impacts motivation, adds fuel to the team’s engine and makes people grow & shine. The way you deliver feedback is also very important. There is a great method of leading challenging conversations, that will make this process more efficient.

Don’t you ever forget about empowering others. It will help you as much as it will help others. It will make you stronger, as more independent and confident people on your Team will push a combined efficiency further.

What are your thoughts on this matter? 1:1 meetings are only one way of empowering others. What are the other tools you’re using to support your employees? How does this impact you as a founder or manager? Please share your ideas in comments – this will help others… and empower them!

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