Contrary to popular belief, great leaders don’t have all the answers—but they do ask the best questions. The best coaches develop strong thinking skills in team members, all by stimulating the right kind of conversation.
With that in mind, have you ever said to your employees, “Don’t bring me a problem unless you also bring me a solution”? This is a relatively common management philosophy, intended to create accountability among employees. But there are two significant downsides to this leadership approach.
First, it encourages employees to delay bringing attention to problems. Second, when employees do acknowledge a problem, it encourages them to suggest the first solution that comes to mind.
Employees can usually develop better solutions to problems than management can, if only because they’re closer to the issue. Speed is important, but developing a solution that will actually solve the problem—and not merely apply a Band-Aid—is more important.
As the leader of your company, it’s up to you to make problems a comfortable part of the conversation. A few easy questions can ensure that a valid problem-solving culture is developed, from the top down:
There’s always more than one approach to solve a problem—and the coach’s initial approach might not be the best one. Always listen, question, reinforce learning from failure, and take great pride in the development of your team members. Don’t simply demand answers.
Rebecca Morgan is the President of Fulcrum Consulting Works, Inc. in Cleveland, OH. A 2017 inductee into the Million Dollar Consulting® Hall of Fame, Morgan has positioned mid-sized manufacturers for long-term success since 1990. Her thought leadership is expressed through consulting, writing, and speaking — the Johnny Appleseed of manufacturing operations strategic thinking. You can connect with Rebecca @ fulcrumcwi.com You can purchase “Start Smart – Finish Strong” by clicking “HERE!”