We are faced with problems to solve daily. Some might even say that is all they do which means as leaders we must purposefully select which ones deserve our attention.
Leaders use their foresight, discernment and wisdom to know which problems to solve.
Think before taking action
When the next big obstacle rises up to block you, before diving in to solve it yourself, consider the following questions. Let me know if this makes a difference.
Is it a problem to be solved?
Some obstacles actually help us and our teams become more creative. They can also help drive organizational change when the time is right. What if we reframe the problem into our bigger story. Every great story needs an obstacle to overcome. Work diligently behind the scenes to build agreement and then be ready to spend our energy when the time for change arrives. Isn’t this better than feeling frustrated?
Who can give you another perspective?
We believe that we have a problem to solve, but the strange sound we are hearing in the “machine” might not be coming from where we think. Find a trusted colleague with experience to give a second opinion. They may confirm your findings, give us new ideas to consider, or show that our initial findings point to a different problem.
Is it worth solving?
Solving problems takes emotional labor. Yes. We could solve it, but is it worth the effort? We want to take care to stay focused.
Is now the time?
Timing in problem solving is critical. If we solve the problem at the wrong time we may get unexpected results, burn unneeded capital, and perhaps have to solve a similar problem later.
Are you the right one to solve it?
If the problem requires your unique skills then you may be the one. If not, it may be an opportunity for a team member to take it on and you can provide guidance. The most effective leaders spend their time working on only what they can do.
Successful leaders know when they should get involved directly.
Be prepared for resistance
Even when a problem is hurting people, those enduring the pain at times are more afraid of what is going to happen then what is already happening. Solving problems can even change the power structures in organizations so doing the right thing may bring forth some unexpected adversaries. Leaders others want to follow do the right thing anyway.
Shepherding: The art of becoming the leader others want to follow.