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The Champion Forum Podcast

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The key to moving from compliance to engagement: Get the "how" out!

Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! Have you ever wondered how to get your team to embrace change rather than resisting it? Leaders often assume everyone is motivated by the same things and lead based on what needs to be done. When leaders change the focus from "how" to "why,” they create greater organizational engagement, motivation, and alignment. In today’s episode, we will discuss the difference between compliance and engagement and how you can connect your team to a vision rather than just a process.


When faced with addressing a problem, many leaders focus on giving their team directions on how to succeed. They are solution-oriented and want to create a quick win. However, there is a difference between communicating how to succeed and why you should succeed.


The How-Focused Approach:

Task: Increase production efficiency.

Instruction: "Implement the new automation system to reduce production time by 20%."

Outcome: Efficiency improves, but employees may feel disconnected from the change.


The Why-Focused Approach:

Vision: "Our goal is to provide high-quality, affordable products that improve everyday life."

Instruction: "By increasing our production efficiency, we can make our products more affordable and accessible to more people. This automation system will help us achieve that. Let's work together to ensure it's implemented smoothly and effectively."

Outcome: Employees understand the broader impact of their work, leading to greater buy-in and collaboration.


People are more inspired and motivated when they understand the deeper purpose behind their work. Knowing the "why" gives their tasks and roles a sense of meaning. When people understand the mission and vision of the organization or the purpose behind a new change or task, they are likely to be more engaged and committed to their work.


Q: Describe a time when your leader used a how-focused approach. How did you respond to their direction? Describe a time when your leader used a why-focused approach. How did you respond to their direction? Which approach motivated you more? Which approach do you remember more clearly? Why?


What are the benefits of a “why” focused approach to leadership?

  • People are more accepting of change

  • People are more resilient

  • People are more innovative


Why don’t leaders use a “why” focused approach to leadership?

Leaders are often overwhelmed by completing tasks and putting out fires to take the time to cast vision.


How to connect your team to purpose:

  • Make personal connections

  • Acknowledge setbacks

  • Create discussion

  • Ask questions

  • Celebrate success


Q: Are you investing the proper amount of time to present your organization’s purpose and the why behind the initiative? What changes can you make to be a leader of engagement versus a leader of compliance?


Application Activities:

  1. Clarify your vision. For a mid-level manager, this can be challenging. You know the company’s mission and vision, but it can be hard to translate the “why” to a team doing much more task-focused work. Spend time connecting what your team does to the vision for the company. How does your team help support that goal? What benefits do you provide for the customer? What problem do you solve? Additionally, spend some time thinking about your vision for the team. What roadblocks do you want to remove? What is your vision for your team's culture? Answering these questions should help you better understand your why whenever you institute a new policy or procedure.


  1. Vision must be communicated regularly in order to stick. A fun way to reward employees for remembering the vision is to reward those who remember it. A candy bar or small gift card for the first person to volunteer to recite the vision correctly at least once a month is a great way to keep it front of mind without simply repeating yourself.

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