The 5-Why Method

You may have heard of the 5-why method. It’s a way of looking at cause and effect to understand the true reasons behind something happening. The reason why it can be so useful is because the obvious causes may not be apparent when you ask the question of why? the first time. This is especially true when it comes to human motivation.

The First-Time Manager

My first management job was a rough time. For some reason, my employees and I didn’t ‘click’. I attributed it mostly due to the fact that all of them were very bright, intelligent engineers, and very capable of handling themselves. I also thought it was because I was inexperienced. Both of these factors played a part in the rough time I was having. But I realized only later on there was a much bigger factor – I wasn’t being authentic with them.

Who Was I Kidding?

Why did I want to become a manager in the first place, you may have asked? I would’ve told you what you wanted to hear. I’d say that I had leadership potential and wanted to exercise that. I wanted to help my team excel, grow, and maximize their potential. And I believed I could help my team become their true best. The problem was, I wasn’t my being my true best.

I was lying to myself, and I was lying to them.

Human Nature

I wanted to be a manager for the title, position, and the power more than any other reason. Sure, everyone heard what they needed to, and I was as good as the next person at saying it. But, nobody would hire someone if they they knew that. So I said what you’d expect a leader to say.

It doesn’t take a PhD in psychology to know when someone is a fake.

Eventually we tell ourselves lies often enough that we believe them. But no matter how much you believe something to be true, only the true why comes through in your actions, behavior, and, in little ways, everything you do. While we can try to hide true intentions with the right words, the right elbow rubbing, and conjured encouragements, you can’t fake genuine care for your people. They know.

The Change

Through maturity and experience, I came to acknowledge the truth of why I wanted to become a manager. Everything changed when I became honest with myself. And I mean everything. I didn’t intentionally change how I managed, but how I managed changed my intentions. It happened on its own. Once I accepted that I did enjoy the position, title and prestige of being a high-level manager, that is, perhaps, when I became an actual leader.

I was able to truly lead my people. I didn’t pretend to care about them, I did care for them. Forcing myself to learn about them as a person wasn’t necessary anymore. There was genuine interest from me. When there was an opportunity for them to grow to my level, I didn’t feel threatened. My desire for them to be successful and fulfilled outweighed their existential threat – the threat I previously would’ve felt.

Why The WHY

Understanding WHY it is you want something is not just important.

It is monumental.

Knowing the answer can take you down the right road versus the wrong one. You’ll save significant time pursuing something. You won’t waste it to find out later it wasn’t what you wanted. And asking the why will help you to be a better leader.

Perhaps most importantly for successful people across the board: When the WHY becomes so clear that it is crystal in your mind, and so powerfully strong to overcome any and all barriers or obstacles – you can accomplish just about anything.