Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Investigative Problem Solving

Leaders are often defined by the problems they solve or create.  So, ensuring your ability to identify the real problem to solve is a crucial tool.  Simple, right?  It is until you add many people's reluctance to look bad or take the blame for an issue.  Our desire to save face or look good often shades communication, which creates confusion over the real problem.  Consequently, leaders must constantly and consistently drill down to find the roots of problems in order to change behaviors that lead to the actions that caused the problems.

Here is an example:

Jane: "Jim, you're not hitting your business development commitments."

Jim:  "You're right. The market is soft - everyone is getting killed.  I don't know what to do."

(Here is the point of Leadership choice.  Drill to the roots of the problem - don't get caught in the branches of the tree.  It is true the market is soft, but....)

Jane: "Did you follow your sales plan for the week?"

Jim:  "I didn't really have time to create one this week."

Jane:  "How about last week?"

Jim:  "No. I just don't want to get bogged down in the administration. I need to be spending my time selling."

Jane:  "Are you calling on the right number of clients to meet your goals?"

Jim: "Well...."

You get it.

Leaders must find the problems and change the behaviors that cause the problems in order to create sustainable results.

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