The Problem with Problems

The pressures and problems you face mistakenly give you permission to have priority over others. Pressures don’t change the principle that leaders serve others.

Pressures and problems don’t justify me-first leadership.


Pessimism is prevalent. Problems and pressures are magnetic. Worse yet, negative attitudes are a deadly virus.

You matter:

Don’t think you can just slip into your office in a funk and it won’t affect those around you. It does.

When you’re in a funk:

People in a funk tend to withdraw and become passive. Off-set passivity by taking a quick walk around the office. Say good morning. Wish a few people a good day, then get back to work.

Go ahead. I’ll wait while you get out of yourself and spread some cheer.

People in a funk may use their problems as justification for irritability and anger. In this case, act otherwise. Shift from beat-down speech to lift-up language.

Think of optimism in behavioral
not attitudinal or dispositional terms.

Jay Eliot, former right hand man of Steve Jobs told me that people in the office always see the same Jay. “It doesn’t matter if I’ve been up half the night worrying about a problem.”

Be consistent and predictable.

All or nothing:

Don’t fall into the all or nothing abyss. Putting people before problems isn’t an all or nothing proposition. You don’t have to be a martyr. Make a small difference.

The but:

This post doesn’t address the healthy need to refuel and refocus; to care for you.

The summary:

Problems become problems when they’re justification for me-first leadership.


What small behaviors or activities can leaders do that off-set the negative magnetism of problems?


You’re invited to the Leadership Freak Facebook page. If you enjoy it, click “Like” and jump into the conversation