Why Effective Leaders are Excellent Problem Solvers

magine you’re on a chartered sight-seeing boat, and it has started to sink. Four people step up to captain the lifeboats. One of the captains is in panic mode and doesn’t know what to do. The co-captain remains calm and says, “We’re going to row to that island, and we’re going to make it.”

Whose boat would you rather get in?

The ability to stay focused and solve a problem – no matter the situation – is arguably the most important skill a leader can have. From CEOs of Fortune 500 companies to small business owners, leaders are tasked with successfully solving multiple problems throughout the day.

As you can see from our story above, problem solving involves emotions. To be an effective problem solver, you need to use emotions in a way that helps the situation, not hurts the situation.

Let’s look at what might be holding you back – and how to address it.

A person with low problem solving skills:

  • Becomes overwhelmed by emotions and gets stuck, unable to solve the problem
  • Avoids conflict
  • Viewed as unreliable or ineffective

A person with too much focus on problem solving skills:

  • Might solve a problem before they have all the data
  • Might solve a problem that isn’t theirs to solve

So what does a person with effective problem solving skills look like?

They solve problems readily. If they are in a high pressure situation, upset about something, or under a great deal of stress, they can keep their emotions in check and solve the problem quickly.

For example, you are leading a team that has been working on a major project. It’s due on Friday. On Thursday, one of your key team members calls in sick. Annie has the flu and won’t be back in the office this week.

You stop and think through the challenge. “What are the main skills Annie brings to the team? Who could help fill in? Who can take on another piece of this project?” You talk to two other team members who have the skill sets and could likely help – and they readily agree. Problem solved, quickly and calmly.

Want to develop those same skills? Follow this simple exercise to get started:

  • Pick a problem in your personal or professional life.
  • Generate at least three possible solutions for the problem, even if you think one of them won’t work at all.
  • Set a date/time you will make the decision.
  • List the pros and cons of each solution.
  • Re-read the list. One solution will logically stand out.

Now you have more power to make that decision!

If your career could be empowered by learning how to become a better problem solver, reach out and ask about the coaching package that will work best for you!


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