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Mary Jo Asmus


Great post. And we are totally aligned on this one! I spend a fair amount of time with micromanagers helping them to understand the difference between "what" and "how". You've illuminated the difference and why it is important well.

Interestingly, even seasoned execs get caught up in explaining, ad nauseum, the "how". It's not hard to see how this can stunt the growth of their people and organizations. Yet, when a manager learns the difference between "what" and "how" and uses it appropriately in the way you've described - magic can happen.

Steve Roesler

Mary Jo,

I think we may get to the heart of this more than most people working on the "inside". When coaching, we start watching and diagnosing what's going on, especially when data show us that people aren't "engaged."

The "how" appears as a result of that kind of observation.

peter vajda

Hi Steve,

You say, "...When coaching, we start watching and diagnosing what's going on, especially when data show us that people aren't "engaged." The "how" appears as a result of that kind of observation."

And, if conscious and discerning, so does the equally, or more importantly, "why" it's not working or folks aren't engaged. Too, it's about whose "what" and "how" and "why."

Dan Erwin

Steve: The what and how are terrific. My clients and I, however, add why from a different perspective. When we teach delegating or coaching, the why puts the coaching into the context. We do know from research that unless the context is clear, the learning will not be as effective.

We call the delegating/coaching process, "why, before how."

Steve Roesler

Peter and Dan,

It's been fascinating over the years to watch people who are willing to go with the "what" and "how", but not necessarily (at least openly) want to explore the "why".

I, for one, am so darned contextual that it's virtually impossible to get to the What and How without it.

Obviously, "why" demands more soul-searching and intentional effort--as well as self-disclosure. Like you, I'm not confident in the path forward until the "why" is openly identified and discussed.

Thanks to both of you...

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