[April 29, 2017] In 1935, American R.K.O. movie actress Ginger Rogers agreed to help raise awareness for the crimson flower known as the poppy. Then as now, the red poppy was symbolic of the sacrifices of those who died in World War I.Â The Veterans of Foreign Wars discovered that when they pay attention to such things of symbolic value, they could improve patriotism in our nation.1
“Pay attention to those employees who respectfully ask why. They are demonstrating an interest in their jobs and exhibiting a curiosity that could eventually translate into leadership ability.” – Harvey Mackay, American businessman and syndicated columnist
Good leaders actively seek out those who are inquisitive about their jobs. When folks ‘ask why’ it means there must be some semblance of intelligence and motivation. Where intelligence and motivation exist, leadership potential is not far behind. I discovered that when a young soldier asks me something, I judge that soldier by both the question and whether there is real interest behind it.
That individual is more than likely a leader in their own right. My job has been to translate that rudimentary leadership spark into something greater. I found a number of key members of my personal staff by simply listening to what people had to say and asked others in conversation. We can learn a lot about those who ask why.
Asking good questions is a good habit for leaders. They do this every day. Yet this is only the beginning of leadership. Those who ‘ask why’ are seeing things as that have yet come to pass and ask why not.2 To nurture this intelligence and motivation is a challenge for the leader but is a fundamental function of leadership … to create more leaders.
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- See the May 2017 VFW national magazine article by Janie Dyhouse titled Hollywood’s biggest names once supported the buddy poppy program: https://www.vfw.org/news-and-publications/vfw-magazine
- Robert Kennedy once said, “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why … I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”