How to Rise and Thrive Through Pressing Problems

We’ve all had bosses who proved they didn’t care about people by how they responded to pressing problems.

Leaders who get lost in problems lose sight of people.

 magnifying glass

An email:

To a teammate who worked through pressing problems…

Dear ____,

You were fantastic yesterday!

You showed real resolve and toughness to get things done, even when things went wrong.

I’m sure you felt stressed. But, on the outside you looked calm and focused. You rose to the challenge. Great job!

We have some organizational and technical issues to solve. I’m interested in your suggestions on smoothing the process and resolving technical problems. When can we meet this week?

Your performance gives me confidence that you will rise up when future challenges emerge.

You have my respect,


Growth stops when perfection is all that matters.

Honor effort while working to eliminate problems at the same time.

Two dangers during pressing problems:

  • People-development at the expense of high standards and solutions.
  • Problem-solving at the expense of motivation and relationships.

Development and solutions:

Leaders who get lost in people-development are satisfied with making progress, even when things are going wrong again.

Leaders who get lost in problem-solving are satisfied with solutions regardless of the people-cost.

  1. You think it’s a crisis, but unless someone is dying or the organization is going under, it’s a learning experience.
  2. Problem-solving develops people as long as standards are high.
  3. Focus on solving pressing problems and developing people.
  4. People are always central. The right people solve problems.
  5. Honor behaviors you want repeated. Lift your head and watch how people respond when things go wrong. Honor behaviors that reflect resolve, resilience, and toughness.
  6. Create accountability.
  7. Establish deadlines.

Pressing problems magnify everything.

You see yourself and others most clearly when the pressure is on.

How can leaders bring people-development and problem-solving together?