When Problem-Solving is a Problem

The way you deal with problems is more important than the problems themselves. Dysfunctional problem-solving makes problems worse.

Dysfunctional problem-solving makes problems worse. Image of a person spraying germs.

3 dysfunctional problem-solving leaders:

#1. Tip-toe leaders.

Tip-toe leaders prolong problems by producing tip-toe solutions.

Tip-toe leaders worry too much about personalities, politics, and public perception. You can’t ignore these issues. Just don’t make them central.

Solution: Stretch your kind candor muscles behind closed doors with trusted colleagues.  Find language and tone that expresses your heart and speaks to challenges.

#2. Drama-making leaders.

Drama aggravates problems by adding heat. Spend less energy complaining about things in the past and more energy dealing with things you can change.

Cure: Adopt a make-it-better approach. Ask, “How am I making things better with my attitude, words, and behaviors?”

Use the energy of stress to turn your attention to solutions.

#3. Face-saving leaders.

Face-savers worry more about appearances than results. Face-saving leaders:

  1. Hide tough issues from higher ups.
  2. Minimize real problems.
  3. Have things in control when they’re covering their butts.

Sadly, in dysfunctional organizations, face-savers succeed.

Cure: The best way to save face is to own problems and work toward solutions, even if the problems aren’t your fault. Be known as a solution provider, not a self-protective face-saver.

10 questions that enable effective problem-solving:

  1. Why does this matter?
  2. What have we already done to solve this problem?
  3. How are customers impacted by this problem?
  4. What internal teams/individuals are impacted by this problem?
  5. What do we assume is true?
  6. Who needs to be part of the solution?
  7. If things were going perfectly, what would it look like? Think behaviors.
  8. What would you like from me?
  9. What questions should we be asking?
  10. What’s next?

Use the Five Ws to gather information.

  1. Who?
  2. What?
  3. When?
  4. Where?
  5. Why?

What do leaders do to prolong problems?

What are some questions to ask when working to solve problems?

This post is adapted from a Leadership post on October 3, 2016.