“Don’t tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with the results.”- Phil Knight, Nike founder in his book Shoe Dog.
Leaders fight this challenge. They get promoted based on how they do things. But the more responsible leaders attain, the job of leadership becomes more about the people on the team to whom you trust and to whom you delegate responsibilities.
Effective leaders learn to focus on the “what.” What is important? How well do the teammates understand their roles and what must each of them do?
And, the best, most competent people have their own ideas about “how” to do things. They like to have a say about schedules and methods. They like the freedom to create. When you let them create the how it allows them to put their fingerprints on things. They develop their craft.
Phil Knight is right. Effective leaders get surprised daily with the creative ability of their teams when they step away from “how” and focus on “what.”