Getting There With “Why?”

A recent article in Fast Company, the innovative business magazine, got me thinking about the question “WHY?”

Anyone who has ever spent time with a pre-schooler can tell you two things about the single word question “WHY?” — it is both very effective and highly irritating.

“Why is the sky blue?”

“Well, because the oceans are reflecting the blue up to the sky.”


Hmmm, two “whys” and if you’re like me, you’re likely stumped.

And, you’re likely also thinking more deeply about something you’ve previously taken for granted.

That inherent curiosity of a pre-schooler, combined with some diplomacy and emotional intelligence in asking “why” can lead to some deeper thinking in your workplace too.

I want to talk about getting there with ‘Why?”.

Imagine you are CEO of this company and a young exec on your team comes to your office…

Him: “We need to have a presence on Facebook”
You: “Hmmm, I’d like to hear your thoughts. Why should we be on Facebook?”
Him: “Because all of our competitors are on Facebook.”
You: “That’s a good point, a lot of them are. Why are they on Facebook?”
Him: “Because they want to position themselves as forward looking and youthful.”
You: “Ahh, yes, that could be true. Why do they want to position themselves that way?”
Him: “Because they want to make more money with young people.”

Now we’re getting somewhere.

A final “why” might be in order “ah ok, you might have something there.

Why do we want to make more money from young people?”

The answer may be obvious, or it might not.

Asking why will help you get there quickly and will help you decide if Facebook really is the obvious answer.

At this point you’ve achieved a couple of things in a very short time — you’ve taken the conversation far deeper than it started; you’ve inspired the young exec to identify the challenge, not just the solution and you’ve demonstrated a keen interest in his work.

Thought for the day: Are there moments in your workday when you could try “Why?” with colleagues and staff?

Asking questions like “Why” is one of the techniques coaches use to help executives and senior leaders advance their ideas. Stay tuned for our next blog on taking this concept to the next level — using curiosity to bring a coach-approach to your leadership.

How will you make 2013 your best year yet?

As the New Year starts we hear a lot about resolutions. “I’m going to lose weight, land my dream job, turn my business around.” Some people are rigorous “resolvers” on January 1st, some succeed, many don’t, some simply refuse to participate, often because “I never live up to them anyway!”

One great way to live up to them, and to achieve business and career goals that might normally be out of reach is to work with an executive coach. Coaching works under the premise that all of the answers are within you — the coach helps you find the answers, set the goals and launch yourself to success. An executive coach is like your “thinking partner” helping you to reach further than you’ve reached before. A coach will support you with:

  • Listening and Questioning: securing blocked-out time to think;
  • Vision: co-creating a plan to support your growth;
  • Accountability: keeping you aligned with your plan;
  • Support: encouraging and challenging you to step up every step of the way;
  • Celebration: marking your achievements and success, and

Perhaps most importantly:

  • Return on Investment: We will help you turn your small investment in coaching into a larger return for you and your business.

Regardless of where you stand on resolutions, the start of a new year is a time of renewal, a moment when we tend to reflect back on the last year, and look ahead to the new year. If you were to be completely honest with yourself, what is the really remarkable professional achievement you would like to achieve in 2013?  

Now how are you going to get there?

Now is the time to see if your company will cover the cost of executive coaching services to achieve great ROI and to help you reach your full potential.


As many of you know, since leaving the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, I have started my own executive coaching firm — Padraig Coaching & Consulting.

My goal with Padraig Coaching & Consulting is to share some of the incredible experiences I have had in my career, to help make your job easier.

Whether that involves communicating better with stakeholders, donors, investors, government and media, or it means assisting you to make the most gains in the shortest time when starting a new leadership role, or whether it means facilitating and managing important discussions and meetings – helping you and your team or your board focus on the strategically important issues — I’m here to help.

I’ve lived these experiences (sometimes for the good, and sometimes with important lessons learned) that I can now share, to make it easier for you.

So what is this newsletter? This E-mail newsletter will come to you every 2 – 3 weeks, it will be short and to the point, and it will offer some suggestions, some tips, some tools that you can use in your daily management life, and that we use here at Padraig Coaching & Consulting.

We hope you’ll share the newsletter with others by clicking on “Forward to a Friend” in the top left of each email, “like” us and engage with us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and let us follow you. Padraig Coaching & Consulting is a social medium built on making management easier, and keeping our networks informed.