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.
To a teammate who worked through pressing problems…
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.
- You think it’s a crisis, but unless someone is dying or the organization is going under, it’s a learning experience.
- Problem-solving develops people as long as standards are high.
- Focus on solving pressing problems and developing people.
- People are always central. The right people solve problems.
- 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.
- Create accountability.
- 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?
Find balance by expecting problems and establishing a structure that puts the contributing experts and front line staff/change agents in a room together to calmly manage the crisis and them transparently communicate the plan to ALL stakeholders (not just leaders that can fire them). This should be practiced and assessed after the fact via a retrospective.
Thanks James. Lots of great wisdom in your comment. Everything from a collaborative approach to effective communication. I think the after action report is so helpful when things go wrong unexpectedly.
“Growth stops when perfection is all that matters” is key concept that impede development. People stop trying and making effort. They perceive others as more competent. They also fear of being perceived imperfect. This is very common at workplace. I appreciate your statement to honor effort. Unfortunately, efforts are less valued. Organisation measure many things on numbers where effort takes back seat. Numbers may not provide true picture, they may be misleading many times.
One way to deal with people development and problem solving together is understanding that people are social animal and have social bonding. Organisations should concerned about knowing their well beings. When they feel respected, cared and recognized, they start enhancing their efforts.
I say this based on my personal experience. People need respect. They need identity before organisation goals. When leaders want to solve both, they should connect by respect their feelings. When employees feel respected, they will respect organisational goal and do all possible effort to achieve even bigger goals.
Thanks Dr. Gupta. “People need respect.” After writing this post I started thinking about the role of respect during pressing problems. If anything is magnified during pressing problems its disrespectful behaviors. On the other hand, respectful behaviors strengthen connections.
Crisis versus learning experience and developing dualistic accountability (when things go wrong as well as when they go right) are great points for maintaining respectful collaboration. Although organizations must be concerned with their bottom line, continuity of business is paramount and that requires human capital. Even the best leader can’t go it alone (Stalin would even admit that one) 🙂
Wow! This speaks volumes to me. As an aspiring leader it lets me know to not forget about the development of my people. This is just as important as solving the problem.
Thanks BOSS. Nice handle! You have my best for the journey.
You bring a very valid point to the leadership table. Leaders and mangers view problems in different ways. Leaders use a problem as an opportunity for growth whereas managers use a problem as a mere mark of deficiency that provides an opportunity for finger-pointing.
Thanks Brent. The pressures that managers feel to deliver results are real. As you indicate, those pressure cause take us in a direction that focuses on the short-term.
Balancing short-term and long-term results is one of the tougher challenges we face.