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.

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

(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.)  

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.