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Problem Solving for Leaders

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

The Great Dynamic Leader

Leaders of organizations are tasks with coming up with solutions to problems everyday.  Some are minor and can be delegated but some are significant or require immediate attention from the leader of the organization.  The leader must be able to analyze the situation and respond with appropriate actions in order to curtail the problem from becoming more. 



Dynamic leaders solve problems in ways that allow the group or organization to move forward.  They understand the vision of the organization and use solutions that are consistent with the vision.  They can inspire other to work within the boundaries of the vision to achieve solutions that can bring the problem to a close or further the progress of the company or organization. 


Great leaders have a keen awareness of what the problem is.  The leader must be an effective communicator to be able to express to others what the problem is.  He or she must be able to work within the framework of the vision and policies of the company to come up with a viable solution to the problem. 


The good leader must be able to be creative when coming up with possible solutions to a problem.  He or she must be able to think about consequences, good and bad, that may occur with each possible solution.  The leader must be able to come up with many possible alternative solutions in order to find the best solution.  The leader that only comes up with one solution to a problem is like a carpenter that only has a hammer in his tool belt.  If he only has one tool, a hammer, he can only have one possible outcome, to bang. 


The effective leader must be able to evaluation each alternative and make an analysis of what is best for the company or organization.  She must be able to present the alternative and how it fits within the company or organizations strategic plan for betterment. 


The optimal leader should be able to make decision after analyzing the date.  A lot of leaders will fall prey to the paralysis of analysis.  This is where the person will analyze the data and continue to analyze without making a decision to correct the problem.  In essence, they keep studying the problem instead of focusing on the solution. 


Lastly, the great effective leader with have to be able to put the solution into action.  Without action the leader is like a poker player with an ace in the hole but does not realize it.  He may not have the best hand but he has a good hand but does not play it.  In the action plan, there may be factors that are a combination of paralysis or analysis, lack of effective communication, or just poor judgment of those involved.  The leader must be able to assess this and correct these problems if and when they exist. 


Problem solving steps

To help clarify the problem solving steps remember the acronym, DECIDE


D Define the Problem:  You have got to know what the problem is and be able to understand it yourself and describe it to others.  This will allow you to operational definition to determine the extent of the problem.  It will allow you to know if the problem can be delegated.  It will allow you to determine if the problem require immediate attention or whether it can be handled at a later date if more pressing things require your attention at this moment.  You should also write down this operational definition of the problem and get someone else’s opinion to make sure you are seeing the problem the right way.


E  Examine the Alternatives:  When you define the problem it will start to help you answer question to determine the alternatives.  Delegation, prioritizing, and “quick fixing” will be alternatives, but also during this step you should determine if this is something you will need to be concerned about enough to take it to someone higher than yourself.  You will need to know who should be involved in this problem solving session.  This is where you will look at all possible alternative to a solution to the particular problems.  It is a wise move to write them down. My caution is not to negate any possible alternatives at this time no matter how silly they sound. 

C  Consider how choices relate to goals:  During this step you will look at the company or organizations vision and mission statement and determine how the problem could be detrimental to the overall organizational functioning.  The choices you will identify in the next step will start to become clear because you have looked at the strategic planning of the organization.   

I  Identify acceptable choices:  Now that you have defined the problem, determine the people who should be involved, made a list of possible alternatives, and made sure the choices are consistent with your vision and strategic planning, you and the group should identify possible solutions to the problems that are acceptable.  This is where you will eliminate the solutions that do not fit.  Some solutions might make sense but cannot be implemented by you or the organization at this time.  They are not acceptable choices.  They should be thrown out.

D  Decide on one choice:  Now you should have a good list of possible solutions and you should decide on one choice.  It should be the best choice based on the information you.  You should implement this solution and put it into action. 

E  Evaluate the results:  Who knows?  Maybe you made the right decision and this solved the problem.  Maybe not.  You have to evaluate the action of the solution to determine its effectiveness.  If it did not work, go back and do this process over.  You already have the framework set.  Maybe one of the alternative acceptable solutions is better and may work.  You will not know until you do it. 


Leadership learning

Being an effective leader does not mean you do not make mistakes.  Actually you will probably make more mistakes than those that never venture to be a leader.  Used the DECIDE framework of problem solving to become a better leader.  As a leader you will be faced with many problems.  The great leaders, the ones who achieve more become better, will not look at problems as a way to hold them back, but will look at problems as obstacles they must overcome to Lead the Level 10 Life.

Becoming a Technical Leader: An Organic Problem-Solving Approach
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  1. Jacquie Jensen, Jan Kurtz, Kenni Spencer, and Earl Reum, Middle Level Leadership Handbook Adviser's Guide. Reston, VA: National Association of Secondary School Principals, 1992.

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