Solution Saturday: Stress Free Problem-Solving

Too much problem-solving is a problem. Dis-empowered employees want you to solve their problems for them.

Successful leaders help others solve problems.

(This post originates with a problem-centric-email I received. It only took 30 minutes on the phone for her to find a path forward.)  

every time you solve problems others could solve you weaken your team.png

12 Steps to Stress free problem solving:

#1. Choose compassion, not solution. Solving problems for others is stressful and perhaps a little arrogant. Begin problem-solving conversations with an open heart toward people. Focus on them – help them focus on the problem.

Every time you solve problems others could solve, you weaken the problem-solving power of your team.

#2. Determine if the problem is one only you should solve. Own it if it’s yours.

#3. Give the monkey back. People walk into your office with a monkey they want you to own. Every problem you own – that isn’t yours – limits your ability to lead.

#4. Set your solution aside. Solutions you provide invite dependency. It might be good for your ego, but it doesn’t strengthen organizational capacity.

#5. Relax. You aren’t going to solve their problem, they are.

#6. Create small buckets. Divide big problems into small buckets. On the call, she divided her problems into a “personal/relationship bucket” and an “organizational/performance bucket.” 

#7. Choose a bucket. I asked which issues were most pressing. She chose personal/relationship.

#8. Encourage people to focus on what they want. Problem-centric leaders sink into what they don’t want.

#9. Encourage positive language. “How might you shift what you just said from negative to positive?”

#10. Focus on their behaviors, not the behavior of others. They can’t control others.

#11. Explore small changes. Aim low to reach high.

#12. Try something.

She identified a pressing issue and crafted a behavior-based solution in 30 minutes. It wasn’t perfect. It was progress.

How might leaders best help others solve their own problems.