If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that problems can come at leaders fast and furious. Often, there’s no perfect solution in these complex situations, but the problems still need attention and can’t be ignored.
Here are proven methods for leaders to become more adept at identifying, addressing and moving on from problems so teams can thrive.
Define the problem
One of the fundamental but often overlooked aspects of good problem solving and decision making is to begin by clearly stating, as succinctly as possible, what the problem is that we’re trying to solve. This is a crucial piece for helping others become better problem solvers. If you perceive a problem but can’t clearly define it, the problem will persist as generalized stress and anxiety, without any clear outlet. Before you can make decisions, you need to understand the problem. Once the problem is clearly stated and defined, you can start to take steps to solve the underlying issues.
Check your assumptions
Experience can lead us to decide too quickly or fall victim to our own assumptions and biases. Many times, our decisions based on experience are correct, but other times we might be smart to take a step back, learn more about what’s going on, and brainstorm and explore new options with input from your team. Plus, when problems involve others, let’s engage them in intentional problem solving, rather than just giving them the answer, so they can learn more deeply from their own experience—rather than from yours.
Take decisive action
When confronting a problem, if we don’t make some sort of decision and move forward with some sort of action, we get stuck in analysis paralysis. Usually, the decisions you make and actions you take toward solving a problem don’t need to be perfect. We’re looking for progress, not perfection. The best decisions are applied and tested. This is a fundamental lesson in good problem solving. We apply our best decisions and we test them out to see what happens. Then, we adjust as needed based on what we learn. This approach gets us moving and often minimizes our risk, because we can always change course as we move deeper into solving the problem.
No matter the size of your problem, remember this simple model: Start by defining the statement of the problem, check your assumptions and involve others, and then execute. The good news is if you follow a process with deliberate action, almost all problems are manageable.
At Living As A Leader, we offer a Leadership Development Series designed to produce leaders that can positively shape the cultural environment, reduce turnover and achieve crucial business initiatives. We do this by providing training, coaching and consulting with a focus on pragmatic communication tools for leaders at all levels of your organization.
For more information, contact Steph Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org