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How to Become a Problem-Solving Leader

I am a professional teacher, writer, researcher, and learner. I always try to learn because there is no age for learning.


Leadership doesn’t always mean barking orders and cracking the whip. Often, it means being someone who makes sure every individual on your team understands how to do their job right, so that when you aren’t there, they can handle things themselves. The following tips will help you become an effective problem-solving leader in your workplace, so you can trust your team to carry out your vision without micro-managing them every step of the way.

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Develop an Analytical Mindset

It’s not uncommon for leaders to hire someone, then quickly realize that he or she has no idea how to handle certain situations. That’s why it’s crucial for managers and C-level executives alike to have a firm grasp on solving problems. Think of your go-to colleagues as analytical problem solvers with whom you can discuss things like best practices and ideal outcomes. In turn, these managers will develop similar problem-solving skills and become some of your most valuable employees. As a leader, think of yourself as one who hires people based on talent more than industry experience. Developing problem-solving ability is an intrinsic trait—one that shouldn't be overlooked in favor of years in another field or industry.

Lead By Example

While some leadership traits can be learned, others are more innate. For example, if you naturally respond well to stress and have an ability to stay calm under pressure, that’s likely something you could pass on to your employees. If you don’t possess these same characteristics, you should work on developing them. A great place to start is by learning how your actions can impact your team in negative ways—and then making sure they never happen again. Be mindful of how you communicate with employees and lead by example. Adopting certain personality traits won’t just help develop good working relationships; it will also make your team more productive and better able to solve problems before they arise in your business.

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Conduct Frequent Discussions

One of the best ways to solve problems effectively is by taking advantage of frequent one-on-one meetings with your team. It may sound like unnecessary busywork, but discussing issues regularly as they arise is invaluable—not only because it helps you resolve problems before they escalate, but also because it lets you guide and mentors your employees in their professional development. If possible, these should be impromptu discussions, not scheduled appointments—they should happen when you notice something that needs addressing or hear an idea that’s worth discussing further. A little bit of spontaneity will keep things fresh and keep people engaged and eager to share ideas. Just make sure that if something comes up, you get around to discussing it at some point!

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Encourage Team Members to Share Ideas

Even though it’s great to get your team involved in solving problems, make sure you remember that you’re still in charge. Be open and willing to discuss everyone’s ideas—and praise people when they present good ones—but make sure everyone is taking your direction. If you let things get out of hand, it can cause more confusion than anything else. In general, listen closely and only speak up if there are questions or issues with what people are proposing. Keep your team focused on solving problems while letting them know that they can count on you for guidance when they need it. By offering leadership advice and encouraging people to be proactive problem solvers, you show that you have good leadership skills in the industry.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Asking for help is not only okay, it’s necessary. You can’t do everything yourself and there are many times you don’t have access to information that other people do. The key is knowing when you need help and who you should ask. By asking questions, networking, taking advantage of mentorships, and tapping into your personal network, you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to find what you need. If all else fails, reach out to someone in leadership; they almost always want their employees—and their employees' departments—to succeed. In short: Asking for help isn't just okay, it's necessary if you want success in your career field.

Enable Self-Development

To develop self-confidence, first, identify your strengths and weaknesses. Once you've done that, think about what skills you want to work on to become a stronger leader. Developing leadership skills might mean working on presentation skills or giving yourself extra confidence by making public speeches. If being in front of groups makes you nervous, join Toastmasters International, an organization that can help you with public speaking and leadership skills. Being a member will also give you access to information from business leaders on how they overcome challenges in their everyday lives. One way to work on your leadership skills is by becoming a leader within professional organizations such as Rotary or Lions Club. You’ll meet other people who share similar goals and objectives and learn through networking opportunities that provide valuable insights into business strategies. Speaking at conferences helps build credibility for both individuals and organizations, but only if you prepare thoroughly for them ahead of time. When presenting at conferences, ensure you bring high-quality visuals that support whatever message you’re trying to convey. Make sure presenters speak, succinctly, and respectfully—in other words, practice as if it were game day.

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Follow Up on Goals

Create accountability by having regular check-ins with your manager. During each check-in, review your goals and accomplishments for that month, then set new ones for the next. Not only will you have fresh goals to work on each month, but you’ll also be sharing information about what’s been working (and not working) so far—which means she can better tailor feedback, resources, and other support as needed. At a minimum, your check-ins should occur every two weeks or monthly depending on her management style. For example: How has my progress on goal X been going? What ideas do I have for goal Y? What obstacles am I facing in completing Z? What steps do you recommend taking to overcome them? Can I get some help from someone else on project XYZ based on my weekly status report of ZZZ? By actively trying to solve problems together, you'll both figure out how best to troubleshoot issues before they derail important projects; plus, your boss gets insight into how strong of a self-starter you are, which is always an asset when someone's reviewing your performance at year's end.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Ghulam Nabi Memon

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