This may be heresy to some traditional thinkers, but the primary role of a leader is NOT to be a problem solver per se but instead:
- Leaders should foster and develop problem solving skills in OTHERS.
- Leaders are Problem GIVERS: Leaders decide which issues are most important to address, which areas get the most resources.
- Leaders are Problem AVOIDERS: they look down the road far enough to deal with things before they become a crisis or steer around them.
Problems are inevitable and never ending: Solve your #1 problem and #2 gets a promotion. Leaders know that by coaching the person instead of the problem, they will be helping that person develop higher order problem solving skills, enabling them to operate with ever more autotomy and independence.
“Smart folk figure out solutions to problems that wise people never get themselves into.” – Adage
“Effective leaders help others think more broadly for themselves.” – Marcia Reynolds, The Discomfort Zone: How Leaders Turn Difficult Conversations Into Breakthroughs
“Problem avoidance is important in problem solving. Instead of solving the problem directly, go upstream and alter the system so that the problem does not occur in the first place.” – Edward De Bono, 1933-2021, ‘Six Thinking Hats’, originated term lateral thinking, proponent of teaching thinking as a subject
As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier