‘Why’ is the key to good communication in leadership

We’ve been told before that communication is the key to good leadership, but do you know why?

During times of crisis, communication is often more difficult than during times of calm. Ironically, this is when communication is the most important. If you can’t communicate well during times of peace, how well do you think you will communicate during times of chaos?

‘Why’, is the answer.

Many times, when leaders give instructions to their staff, they neglect to tell them why. As far as they are concerned, they have given their directive and they expect their subordinates to just follow it. They may also think the reason why is obvious, and so telling someone why is pointless. But they couldn’t be further from the truth. Human beings have an innate need to know why. It’s the key question children ask when learning about the world. And it’s the main element that keeps adults focused and on task at anything they do.

Share your reasoning why.

As a leader, your primary role is to lead your team to the end of an objective. To have a destination in sight, to chart the course to success and to inspire your team to follow you. By sharing the avenues you have considered, explored, tested and rejected, you show that you’ve thought through all the options. That this decision is the best one for the individual, the team and the objective. In doing so, you overcome any objections in your employee’s minds that might impede their productivity.

It provides clarity.

Your team might share your vision of the bigger picture but knowing the ‘why’ behind your vision will help them keep focused. Explaining the ‘why’ provides clarity as everyone works towards a common goal. When your team has clarity, you will find they are more motivated and productive. Challenging yourself to communicate ‘why’ behind every new directive you give your employees can be good practice for providing clarity.

It encourages ownership.

Knowing the ‘why’ behind a role or a task helps people to link their responsibilities to the bigger picture. It reminds them of the importance behind their work and turns an isolating activity into a team effort. When an individual knows why they are doing something, they take ownership of it. And when employees take ownership of their work, they treat the business they are working for as if it were their own. This means they make decisions earnestly, responsibly and with care. And they are more driven, motivated and have more initiative.


During times of crisis, your employees need your wisdom and leadership more than ever. Moreover, you are in the unique position to guide them forward during these uncertain times. As you seek to inspire and motivate them to keep moving and on track, don’t forget to tell them ‘why’.

Icon of a light bulb

Enhance your leadership development skills with courses at Odyssey Training. 

Our mission is to help emerging and frontline managers achieve positive, long-term behavioural change for themselves and their teams. We achieve this through practical high-quality leadership programs, self-directed action planning, and embedded learning support. Effective communication is what sets great leaders above the rest. As a manager, you need to adapt your style to get the most out of different people while assertively providing direction through effective feedback. Communication Skills for Managers training course will help managers and supervisors to communicate effectively to the diverse range of personalities in a workplace.