Monday, November 21, 2016

Because I Said So

"Because I said so." It's a line that I've used frequently with my children. Usually when their stubbornness butts heads with mine, I'm tired of arguing, and I simply want unquestioned obedience. I know I'm not the only parent who uses it and, truth be told, it can be a fairly effective strategy when dealing with an eight-year-old.

But in the office, when dealing with my team members, I do everything I can to avoid it.

As I've just described, "because I said so," is a line you can get away with using on children, not on professional adults. Some of my earliest professional memories, in fact, are working for a boss that had a "because I said so" style of management, always telling me only what was absolutely necessary to perform the desired task. That was demoralizing, demotivating, and destructive.

And yet, there are times, even now, when the temptation to say "because I said so" in the office is very strong. It usually comes at the end of some long fought battle, when my guard is down and the desire to declare victory on something feels overwhelming.

The temptation, in my mind, is a good thing, because it serves as an important warning sign that I'm about to step over the line.

And that's how I use it. When I'm tempted to say "because I said so" it generally means that I haven't communicated or defined the strategy well enough. If I had, there would be no disagreement and no situation where saying "because I said so" would appear necessary.

It's hard. Remember I said the temptation only comes at the end of long fought battles. But if you want better alignment between strategy and execution, giving in to that temptation is about the worst thing you can do.

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This post first appeared on Eric Lanke's blog, an association executive and author. You can follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at

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