All of us respond to problems in different ways. Some of us immediately start turning over that problem in our mind, perhaps looking for the reason that problem emerged or seeking out related problems that may not have dawned on us yet. But others look beyond the problem to the solution—immediately looking for ways to solve the issue and move forward.
There’s probably room for both ways of thinking—but if you’re in a position of leadership, your employees are going to look to you for answers. To a large extent, they’re going to need you to have solutions, not just theories about the problem itself.
So developing a solutions-oriented approach to leadership is certainly commendable. The question is, how do you know when you get there? How do you know if you’re truly a solutions-oriented leader?
I can think of a few telltale signs.
The Marks of a Solutions-Oriented Leader
You know you’re a solutions-oriented leader when…
- You look at a problem and see the possible outcomes—the possible future. If you allow yourself to become emotionally involved in a problem—getting your feelings hurt or growing resentful over it—then you’re not really thinking about solutions. Don’t dwell in the past; start building the future.
- You think systematically and strategically. You’re at Point A. You need to get to Point B. A solutions-oriented mind immediately starts thinking about methods to close the gap and make that change.
- You have little time for excuses. The solutions-oriented leader simply doesn’t need coulda-shoulda-wouldas. The solutions-oriented leader doesn’t care about whose fault it is so much as what can be done to make things right.
- You resist problem-oriented questions. Some employees will inevitably ask why did this happen? The solutions-oriented leader fights these questions, though—because often, they just waste time. Focus less on why and more on what do we do now?
- You take a collaborative approach. The solutions-oriented leader knows that the most important thing is to find a way forward—and the best way to do that is to pull the whole team together into brainstorming and collaboration.
Next time a problem arises in your workplace, consider your response. See if you can find some ways to focus less on the issue itself and more on the possible solution.
Dr. Rick Goodman CSP is a thought leader in the world of leadership and is known as one of the most sought after team building experts in the United States and internationally.
He is famous for helping organizations, corporations, and individuals with systems and strategies that produce increased profits and productivity without having the challenges of micro managing the process. Some of Dr. Rick’s clients include AT&T, Boeing, Cavium Networks, Heineken, IBM, and Hewlett Packard.