Tag Archives: The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Win

Why “Help me understand” Falls Short

Cheryl offers: I’m reading a new book right now titled The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizationsby David Ulrich and Wendy Ulrich. This is a great book on a topic that, until now, has not been as clearly described or explained. That topic is why we all work. It’s not about money, although that’s always important. It’s really about meaning.  We invest our time and our lives and want something back. Having a sense of purpose, a sense of value about our contributions is important no matter what the line of work.  I was reading along in perfect harmony with the authors until I reached page 142 where I read “Help me understand. These words put the leader in a coaching stance.” I stopped reading for a moment.  Perhaps for some these words invite dialogue. However, in my experience, more often than not I’ve heard students, employees, and leaders say they come across as condescending and patronizing in the most insincere ways.  This does not put a leader in a coaching stance. When leaders are viewed as anything less than authentic, sincere, and trustworthy, they cannot be defined as a coach by my definition or as defined by the International Coach Federation. According to the ICF, coaching is a partnership which requires trust and equality between participants.  “Help me understand” can easily be interpreted as a one up and one down relationship; that’s not real coaching. For anyone looking to expand their leadership capabilities and be a more coach-like leader, trade those 3 words for “Tell me more”. It’s definitely a trade up and this book is still a great book!