Why Effective Leadership Needs Problem-Solving Skills

Effective leaders are those who are able to find answers to difficult questions in an ever-changing environment – an ability rooted in strong problem-solving skills. It’s clear that problem-solving is one of the most important skills to have, but let’s break it down further…

How Problem-Solving is Evolving

better leadership by solving problems

You may have heard the term ‘problem-led leadership’. This is a new concept where bright and curious leaders identify and solve complex problems within their business. They get their team excited about these identified problems and use everyone’s expertise to try and solve it, bringing unity and spontaneity to the workplace. You may have also heard of positive problem-solving where leaders deal with problems while remaining composed and optimistic.

How Does Problem-Solving Make You a Better Leader?

If you are efficient at problem-solving, you can guide your team toward their goals without them being frustrated or confused. If you solve problems, you will experience better collaboration between team members, removing the need for reworks. Collaboration also fosters continuous improvement in a business.

Six Steps to Solving a Problem

Here are six steps an effective leader needs to follow to solve any problem –

  1. Identify the Problem

    This is the first step to solving a problem. This may seem obvious; however, many leaders do not spend enough time defining problems, and as a result, they implement a solution prematurely. For you to truly define a problem, ask yourself, ‘What is the problem?’ and ‘What should we be achieving instead?’ The final question should be, ‘How can I achieve this solution quickly and efficiently?’ Once the issue is identified, you will be able to form an action plan for it with your team.

  2. Evaluate the Problem

    The next step prompts the leader to find the root cause of the problem. This is done by looking for overall patterns and asking questions about the what, who, where, when, and how to better understand the impact of the issue. Remember, this is not about assigning blame. Instead, leaders should evaluate and understand all the angles of the issue so that action can be taken moving forward.

    problem solving steps
  3. Use Data to Back Up Your Solution

    Often, problems need to be explained to stakeholders along with a set of solutions if the problem is one that persists over time. By using data that you already have, you will be able to translate your discoveries into something tangible for others in your business.

  4. Communicate to Your Team

    Transparency is always a good start to communication. You need to be clear about your plan of action with the team you lead as well as with your key stakeholders. By showing others that you’re transparent, you will gain their respect. Remember, people who are supporting the solution need to stay motivated and invested in the task until it is resolved.

  5. Develop and Test Solutions

    Once you have brainstormed a few solutions, you may want to start making those ideas actionable. You can do this by creating lists with accurate actions, timelines and prioritization. As a leader, you should be evaluating the cost and time for these results and communicating this info back to stakeholders.

  6. Improve the Solution

    Mistakes can only be evaluated from a hindsight perspective. Errors that occur should be part of a growth and development strategy. Leaders should use these mistakes to improve their overall approach, process and implementation plan. The most important thing about solutions is that they should be continuously improved upon over time.

Developing strong problem-solving skills is a critical part of becoming a successful leader. Following these steps will help you boost your effectiveness, productivity, and catch any red flags before they hit.

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