Why “the why” is not enough…

The idea of leaders articulating the why of any change has been a very popular construct. Simon Sinek’s book, Start With The Why, is a popular text that gives readers many reasons about the importance of starting with why when leading others through change. Leading change is a complex feat. It requires endurance, energy, and a scholarship of the change process. It is difficult, but can be a rewarding experience when done successfully.

I’ve come to realize that many leaders start with why and also expect it to carry them through the change process. This is the fallacy of an over reliance on why change is needed. A balanced approach: starting with why, being clear about what, and providing support and resources needed to help others determine how to change are all necessary. Instead, what I often observe is not a balanced approach. It seems leaders are quick to engage in articulating the why and the what, the moral cause and the vision of such, but rarely support these with a plan of action-or the how we plan to help others get there. In simple school leadership terms it’s making sure we aren’t just asking teachers to implement an evidence-based practice (what) because it will help improve outcomes for students (why), but accompanying that with the resources, professional development, and feedback (how) on the implemented practice to give staff a solid opportunity to be successful and see the change process all the way through until the end. It means when we experience resistance to change we don’t assume the push back is related only to a misunderstanding of the why, but we think deeply based on what we are seeing, hearing, and observing, to determine of the resistance is an indication of the need for further support in the how, what, or why.

Why is certainly where we must start the change process, and clarity around what needs to change is paramount, but we can’t stop there. Change is a process. It requires action and a shift in thinking and practice. We do our due diligence as leaders when we support those charged with changing with a balanced approach.

Simon’s book was Start with The Why, but to finish, we must also be sure to provide those we are charged with leading clarity of what to change and support in how to do so.

Until next time-be you! Be true! Be a hope builder!

Latoya

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