One of the virtues of great leaders is the ability to focus on solutions and push the negatives aside. Henry Ford has been credited as saying: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right”.
The value of this quote is in seeing that as often as not, the secret to dealing with difficulty is in the way that you frame the situation. If you see nothing but problems, then the focus will likely remain on problems.
One of the secrets to great leadership is the ability to move forward and the only way to move forward is to find solutions rather than focus on the problems. This is not to say that we should ignore problems or not spend time analyzing them. The key is to spend just enough time on a problem to learn from it and then focus on how to fix it.
Let’s see how we can apply the principle of focusing on the solution and not the problem, in a very practical sense. Begin by calmly listening to the articulation of the problem. Once there has been a full description of the problem, take time to acknowledge what has been said as a means to close further conversation and dialogue on the problem. Then, ask the question: “what would the future look like if we eliminated the problem?” This creates a vision towards a positive outcome.
Vision is a powerful tool in creating change. The statement of vision for the future would be followed with a question such as “what steps do we need to follow to reach the future state that we just identified?” This last question enables us to focus on specific actions that will achieve a solution-based outcome. Henry Kaiser – a great American industrialist who lived during the same industrial era as Henry Ford – was quoted as saying: “trouble is only an opportunity in work clothes”. It is the ability to see a problem as an opportunity that leads to character-based leadership.
In my next blog we will look at the importance of a positive self-image.
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David Town, CHRP, is a facilitator and coach of leadership and management principles that enable individuals and organizations to build greater leadership competency, resulting in higher performance and higher employee engagement. David has a particular focus on effectively managing conversations involving confrontation or conflict. As well, he provides insights and assessment strategies for integrating character competencies into leadership skills resulting in increased trust and reduced risk for leaders. David is President of Your Leadership Matters Inc.