Leaders Focus on People – not Problems

One of the most common pitfalls among leaders is the tendency to see their primary role as Chief Problem Solver. How can leaders avoid that pitfall and shift to develop and empower others to solve problems?

Focus on the person – not the problem.

In conversations, this means less telling…

  • Here’s what I think…
  • Try this…
  • Here’s the plan…

And more asking…

  • What do you think?
  • What have you tried?
  • How do you plan to solve this?

It means focusing on others’ development and not just their performance.

Constantly solving problems for others can seem efficient and helpful. And it can bring short-term satisfaction and recognition. But this approach trains others to keep coming to you. It keeps you in the weeds and takes more of your time long-term.

If you’re solving problems those you’re leading should be solving, this deprives them of the opportunity to develop their skills, confidence and ownership.

If you view yourself as the Chief Problem Solver, what will you do when you’re put in a role leading others who have deeper subject matter expertise than you?

When people come to you, do you see them as problems or people? And when they walk away, do you want them to leave impressed with your problem-solving ability? Or more confident and empowered to solve that problem – and the next problem – themselves?

Your role as a leader is to develop and empower others to solve problems and achieve results that are greater than you could achieve on your own. A focus on people and not just problems helps you get there.

Joe Baker is a Partner with PeopleResults. As a leadership consultant and executive coach, he helps leaders and their teams achieve extraordinary relationships and results. You can reach him at jbaker@people-results.com or on Twitter @JoeBakerJr.

Joe Baker