Start with WHY First when Leading Virtually

When influencing, through presentation or conversation, it is to your advantage if you spend just a moment setting the proper context first!


Many times as leaders, we are mired knee deep in the problem and that's all that we can see. We know the issues, we see the challenges, so much so that it becomes hard to clearly articulate the issue from a perspective of it's true importance. Stakeholders or your team don't want to hear about problems from you. They hear about problems all day. They want to hear what it's going to take to reach a certain outcome that they really care about.




Our natural tendency is to tell them the "what" before we tell them the "why". The "why", or context, needs to come first. Take a look at these two communications to a team working virtually:


Example without context:


Team,

All milestone dates will be shortened by two weeks. Please reprioritize to make sure that we meet these new dates.


Example with context:


Team,

As you know, our target to go to market is 40 days away. The challenge is that our largest competitor is coming to market three weeks faster than we expected. If we fail to hit the market with in a week of their product, we risk losing a substantial share of the market.

As a result, all milestones dates will be shortened by two weeks. Please reprioritize to make sure that we meet these new dates.

Next time you are in an important presentation or conversation, start by framing the conversation with context. This puts your issue in perspective and helps to focus your listener's thinking. You can do this by reminding your listener of the initial intent and then paint a picture of where we are today. As humans, we tend to be very loss averse and this perceived gap creates a sense of urgency for your listeners.