Problem Solving Skills of a Leader
Problem-solving skills for a leader fall into two broad areas. The first is internal, determining a desired outcome and then deciding what is needed to accomplish it. The second is the way the desired outcome will be accomplished. Neither happens without the other. There are skills in both areas that must be learned and practiced for success
Skill Number One: Clarity of Vision
Everything starts with vision. Don't confuse vision with goals. Goals may be part of it, but vision is bigger, the context in which the goals will be accomplished, the long-term plan.
- Where do you want to go?
- What do you think it ought to look like 3 to 5 years from now?
- How big do you dare to dream it in terms of success?
Everything starts with the dream. The first problem solving skill is to develop clarity about what you want should happen in both the short and long run. A lack of a clear vision for success is the root cause for problems. Know what you want to accomplish and what the ideal result of success would be. Vision starts with you but doesn't end there. How do you turn vision into reality? That's where the next skills come in.
Skill Number Two: Managing Relationships
This is the area of leadership where most problems appear. As a leader you have to work with people. You may have developed a good solution to a problem but you will need people to implement it.
- Respect those who follow you
- Listen to what they tell you
- Respect differing opinions even if you choose not to follow them
- Acknowledge the contribution of others
- Create an atmosphere of co-creation through teamwork
Bad leaders create disharmony, mistrust and resentment. The result is always less than it should be.
Skill Number Three: Team Building
Even if you are the leader of only one person besides yourself, the two of you are a team. It's essential to see it in that context. There are many different ways to build teamwork. Team building is a skill that requires attention and practice. Potential success deteriorates into failure because of poor teamwork. Especially, as a leader it's your job to create an atmosphere where teamwork flourishes. Have a problem? Give it to the team and see what they can do with it. Respect what they do. It works.
Skill Number Four: Never Stop Learning
Studying those who have succeeded in your field is one of your best problem-solving resources. You don't have to re-invent the wheel. You may want to invent a variation but you don't have to start from scratch. In a way this is a kind of extended relationship problem solving skill. Read a lot. Every successful leader seeks out best practices in his or her field. In time you will develop the same skills with your own personal stamp.
It takes intention and experience to develop the four problem-solving skills above. Apply yourself to each area, set your intention, practice and you will succeed.