The Point: Unavoidably, problems do sprout up in your life as a leader no matter how well you plan your day/week/month/year. Is it a moment of preplanning that is lacking? Perhaps there is an opportunity to develop better contingency plans? Should you belabor the troubled moment? Or, exactly how should you rebound effectively from such problem times? In this post, we’ll take a look at how you as a leader can better troubleshoot to maximize your leadership potential… Enjoy!
Time, Time, Time… See What’s Become of Me
Simon & Garfunkel (and the Bangles) sang the verse of oh so many leaders in the classic tune “Hazy Shade of Winter” bringing up the point that there is never quite enough time to solve each/every problem faced without running into some form of adversity along the way. Think about it, is there really ever enough time to solve everything (and if you’re trying to solve all of them by yourself, this in and of itself is a recipe for disaster!) The problems will stack up faster than you can process them. Sooner or later, you’ll consider taking shortcuts (never a good leadership moment, right?)
What if in leadership development you could troubleshoot your problems away? Think of it this way… If you fail to solve the “core” of each problem faced, inevitably the problem will resurface again in the future (Think of this as blowing away the smoke, but never extinguishing the fire). You typically will find yourself facing the same problems in a never-ending continuous loop of predictable insanity.
Troubleshooting as a Leader
Solving problems is one of the essence of leadership. More importantly than always being able to solve problems, is that ability to problem solve. Getting out in front of problems and proactively problem solve is crucial, but this will take tremendous leadership strength especially when stepping out in front of problems that you may not know how big they are, can be, or are traveling towards you/your organization. Resiliency in solving such problems, along with a healthy dose of persistence, will reflect to the organization your abilities to troubleshoot and resolve issues.
Whether you are leading yourself, a team, or an organization here then are the four (4) most effective ways in which I see leaders troubleshoot:
Tip #4: Effective Communication
In what might seem like the most obvious of the four tips provided as leadership development opportunities, herein lies perhaps one of the most difficult. Communicating effectively has a dose of transparency mixed with both future vision as well as the plan for how that destination will be achieved. I often see/hear leaders that have a great “talk” with their organizational stakeholders. However, in discussing the message delivered with those same stakeholders find them to be confused, paranoid, upset, angry, etc. about the message delivered. It’s not that they don’t understand, they just couldn’t comprehend what was being said!
Tip #3: Forget the Org Chart
While organization charts were important 10-20 years ago, they still seem to play a role in the ego-driven leader of today (Think of it as how many employees can report up to a central figure and you’ll identify the power within an organization – either real or imaginary). Instead of fueling the leadership development ego flames of an out of control leader, look to communicate the message across the organization as a whole. There is no need to have one department hear the message and develop a solution while in the same organization but different part of the org chart a totally different solution is being developed to the same solution. Instead, troubleshoot together for a single best solution (or a series of solutions that could be appropriate for there to be a review of, and ultimate selection for the best).
Tip #2: It’s a People-Business
I can’t tell you how many leaders seem to forget that no matter how much technology is present, how big their organization has become, or how much revenue the organization drives that it’s the people that work in the business that make the difference. As such, having the best people working in your operation can, will, and does make the difference. Cautionary Note: A few years ago I worked with a client that was “force-ranking” all of their employees and looking to “Topgrade” all of their personnel. Everyone was ranked on a scale from 1-5 on a series of key competencies deemed important to the organization, with 5’s being the best. Those that did not measure up to a 4-5 were terminated. Unfortunately, in that group of 1-3 were some of the original people that helped start the company (and previously thought of as some of the “best” until HR started the ranking procedures). Also, the 4-5’s took note and most of the talented ones departed prior to the next go-round of force-rankings. Sometimes it’s important to note: You get what you deserved when it comes to treating your people like people.
Tip #1: Strategic Thinking
Who thinks strategic in your organization? If it’s only you as the leader, you’ve got problems! Troubleshooting, contingency planning, and looking for alignment with new methodologies that go above/beyond where you are today as an organization is crucial to future success. However, above how the troubleshooting message is delivered/received in the organization, it is important to insure that the proper metrics are measured/reviewed/acted upon.
In this post discussing the leadership challenge – troubleshooting we took a look at leaders and their problems, as well as four tips for overcoming troubleshooting moments. It’s important to have open communication, a plan that encompasses the entire organization regardless of org chart structure, top-notch people in your organization, and strategic thinking to troubleshoot effectively.