Problem Solving

“A problem clearly stated is a problem half solved.” – Dorothea Brande

Problem Solving Overview

We expect leaders to solve problems and most of the day that is exactly what they do. All too often, people jump from a problem to a solution without much thought involved. Problem solving is a process that includes gathering information, assessing risks, making a timely decision and monitoring the outcomes of a decision. The first step in problem solving is the recognition that a problem needs to be solved, whether a small problem or a long-term impactful problem.

Leaders deal with two levels of problems. First, they are faced with daily minor problems that don’t often require much effort to resolve (although they do require some information gathering). The second are major, long-term problems that require mere time and effort to resolve. Major problems require substantial information gathering and much thought about the problem and consequences of each alternative.

Why Problem Solving is Important to a Leader

Because leaders are continually faced with problems to resolve, it is important that the leader have a process to gather information, assess risk, communicate the alternatives, and make a timely decision. If a leader makes bad decisions, or avoids solving problem, it impacts their credibility as a leader andMind map their results.

Benefits for the Leader

Having a problem solving process is very beneficial for leaders. The process will ensure that you recognize the problem, define it, and gather the information needed to solve the problem. The process also enables the leader to look ahead and see the consequences of each alternative, enabling the leader to make the right decisions in solving the problem.

Top 3 Coaches Recommendations for Problem Solving
  1. Consider the attitude you present when faced with a problem. Do you complain about the problem? Do you avoid facing problems? List three behaviors you could change that would improve your attitude toward problems and problem solving. Take steps to improve these behaviors.
  2. Think of a recent problem you needed to solve. Did you seek out a sufficient amount of information to make an informed decision? Before solving your next problem, list the information necessary to make your decision.
  3. List the problems and issues you currently face. Prioritize them into categories – most critical, critical, important, and less important. Let your list sit for a day. Then review the list and validate how well you prioritized the items. Continue to maintain this list and check the priorities regularly.
Measure and Improve Your Problem Solving Skills

Be determined to improve your problem solving skills and behaviors. Take the short problem solving self-assessment on this page to identify where to improve your problem solving skills and behaviors. Then, get more coaches’ recommendations in Chapter 32 of The Leadership Compass: Mapping Your Leadership Direction to help you fine-tune your problem solving skills and behaviors.

Related Competencies:


Problem Solving

Measure your problem solving skills and behaviors!

Select your level of agreement with each statement in the self-assessment.
When answering the questions, consider how others might evaluate your problem solving.


Recommended Problem Solving Books:

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