The fringes of leadership are populated with problem-centric leaders.
Leaders are born when they shift from self to others. Leaders begin leading when they shift toward solutions. The first is a beginning - the second represents success.
The problem with problems:
Seeing problems places you on the fringes of leadership. Somehow it feels important to point out deficiencies; in one sense it is.
The problem with problems is seeing them is an easy beginning to an arduous journey.
The second shift:
Courageous leaders shift from problem-centric to solution-centric leadership. It’s the difference between floundering and success. Seeing problems is like falling off logs – Crafting solutions is climbing mountains.
Shifting toward solutions:
- Courageously identify challenges, problems, and failures. “If there is an elephant in the room, introduce him.” Anonymous. If you can’t admit where you are, you’ll never get where you want to be.
- Name problems without distracting, self-affirming condemnations; it’s not who’s right but what’s right.
- Reject leader as savior models. Never take responsibility to fix someone else’s problem. You degrade them and inflate yourself when you become a fixer.
- Affirm the vision of others while protecting your own. Jim Collins suggests, “Embrace the genius of ‘and’.” Everyone has a vision for you and your organization. At best, you’ll get lost following someone else’s plan. At worst, you’ll feel pushed around.
- Help others own their own solutions. If others aren’t willing to get skin in the game, don’t waste your time. Be polite but let it go.
Bonus: Develop small steps not perfect solutions. Perfect solutions are myths, progress is real. Solution-centric leaders move forward while problem-centric leaders hide behind perfection.
How can leaders become solution-centric in a problem filled world?
How can leaders be realistic about problems and hopeful about solutions?