Leadership and Problem Solving

Two sides of the same coin

When I first taught the problem solving model to managers, their overwhelming response was that it was a great set of ideas, but they would never use it "here". When I asked for details, they put it very simply: "The executives here don't think that way".

There is a direct, and an indirect, link between leadership and the quality of problem solving in the organization. The direct link is through key leadership behaviors that define and drive a high quality of problem solving. Those behaviors include identifying problems worthy of effort, framing the issue so staff can tackle it with a clear charter, and then backing away to let staff do their job.

The first indirect link is via the culture. The leader has to model the values and attitudes that are the underpining of sound problem solving. Their actions and decisions have to demonstrate the concern and respect that motivates peoples' best efforts.

The second indirect link is via the leadership structure. That is, there are a range of venues or mechanisms through which executives express their leadership of the organization. Some of the themes that should be evident in those formal mechanisms are clarified within the syntax of this model.

These ideas and others will redefine the Leader's Role, which is our next topic. If you are uncertain how your organization fares in problem solving, I invite you to explore the problem solving Check Up.

Copyright 2003 by Jerry L. Talley | Home Page |