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Building Problem Solvers


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Building Problem Solvers

  1. 1. 12 Prairie Business April 2016 Building Problem Solvers BY RANDY SCHWARTZ |LEADERSHIP| S olving problems is an important part of a leader’s job. It likely represents significant time and effort. It might also mean an abun- dance of meetings. The answers to problems many people might struggle with are generally more apparent to an expe- rienced, knowledgeable and decisive leader. People naturally turn to them for solutions. Others might turn to them simply because they are in charge and are expected to have the answers. Being able to provide solutions to problems in these situations has distinct advantages, both to the person who needs answers and to the leader. A great leader begins finding solu- tions to problems by shifting from a problem-solving mindset to a coaching mindset. Becoming a stronger coach helps focus the leader on the long- term development of others rather than the short- term fix of solving the problem.Problems must still be solved, but in the process, they are har- nessed purposely to grow problem-solving capacity in others. In many organi- zations, a major job of a leader is to grow new leaders. This is a tough transition for most when moving to leadership. Now, our job is no longer to solve problems ourselves — it is to grow the ability of people around us to solve problems. Imagine you’ve hired a fitness coach to help you build muscle tone. When you arrive at the gym for your first workout, the fitness coach (who is obvi- ously in good shape) announces that, because he/she is stronger than you,he/she will lift the weights and do the workout on your behalf, saving you time and effort and getting more weight lifted in the bargain. This arrangement doesn’t make sense,of course, but many leaders operate like that fitness coach. When someone arrives with a problem, the leader, who has more knowledge and experience, offers to solve the problem. In the long term, taking away responsibility for the solution may undermine the development of the one who brought the problem. Instead of strengthening their “muscles,” they might become more dependent. Moving mindset from one focused on problem solving to one focused on coaching others will serve as the foundation for the future growth of leader- ship capabilities and the development of others. Developing greater problem-solving capabilities is central to companies that operate in“prime”— their most successful stage. PB Randy Schwartz CEO, Prime Partners, Inc. Bismarck, N.D. 701.226.5369 12 Prairie Business April 2016